There couldn’t have been a more exciting way to launch the 2022 RYCO 24•7 V8 Utes Racing championship as several emerging talents made their intentions felt during Saturday morning’s qualifying.
The ultra-experienced Peter Ward was expected to have it all his own way, but Brad Kroef had bold ambitions after topping the practice sheets the day before. Come Saturday, it was father Greg who dominated qualifying, narrowly edging Peter Ward leaving son Brad close behind in 3rd. Last season’s rising star Shane Dias slotted in at 4th with Phil Ross a much-improved 5th in a tight 11-ute field. Even David ‘Shaggy’ Lowe was fast, settling comfortably into driving the category’s vacant Holden VE.
As Race 1 launched proceedings, Peter Ward prevailed over Greg Kroef into turn 1, setting the agenda for a tense and testy 8-lap duel. But right on the start line, Brad Kroef stalled, forcing the field to take evasive action around him.
Around the tight Hampton Downs turns, Greg Kroef was piling the pressure onto his veteran rival; his turn of speed forcing him to slide wildly coming into the main straight as he challenged for the lead. By lap 2, Peter Ward was firmly in front. Shane Dias was holding firm in 3rd but a misfire was hampering him from challenging the front runners, while Phil Ross was right on the pace in 4th.
Further back Brad Kroef was making up for his start-line indiscretion – charging through the field, firstly picking off Daniel Ludlam, then Bruce McRae, leaving Shaggy Lowe next in his crosshairs.
Come lap 3, Greg Kroef was piling the pressure onto Ward as the high-flying duo was extending their lead. Dias and Ross were shaking off the mid pack, but it wasn’t long before Brad Kroef came past David Lowe and Paul Fougere was feeling the heat.
Greg Kroef was throwing everything at Peter Ward, but pushing too hard on turn 6 forced his Ford FG to run again wide and lose ground. Ultimately, that’s how the positions remained with Peter Ward collecting the spoils at the chequered flag.