FOUR TO FIGHT IT OUT

NZ Performance Car - - Circuit Talk -

Af­ter one of the most ex­cit­ing rac­ing sea­sons in the 10-year his­tory of the Porter Group NZ V8 Utes cat­e­gory, the fight for the ti­tle will go down to the wire at the last round at Hamp­ton Downs on March 11 and 12 when four driv­ers bat­tle it out to be­come the of­fi­cial NZ V8 Ute Rac­ing Cham­pion.

Reign­ing cham­pion Paul ‘Auto’ Manuell has led the se­ries all the way since round one at the ITM V8 Su­per­cars event back in Novem­ber. Un­like last sea­son, how­ever, he has not had it all his own way, and the 56-point lead he held over sec­ond­placed Richard ‘Dan­ger’ Moore af­ter round one re­duced to just 28 points with three races left.

Manuell and his Orix-spon­sored Holden won at Pukekohe and Tere­tonga, but Moore fought back im­pres­sively over the course of the sea­son, with wins for Mitre 10 Trade Rac­ing at the sec­ond round at Bruce McLaren Mo­tor­sport Park, Taupo, then again at the third round at Mike Pero Mo­tor­sport Park, Christchurch, be­fore he took the last round at the New Zealand Grand Prix meet­ing at Man­feild Au­to­course last month. Had it not been for mis­for­tune at the first round at Pukekohe, when he was caught up in an ac­ci­dent ahead of him, that 28-point gap would be even nar­rower.

So, Manuell has the clear ad­van­tage on points, but Moore will hope to have a cir­cuit ad­van­tage at the fi­nal round at Hamp­ton. As a driv­ing in­struc­tor at the cir­cuit, he has com­pleted lit­er­ally thou­sands of laps and knows every groove, bump, and square inch of the rac­ing line. He won the round there on his NZ V8 Utes de­but in 2015 and will be ex­tremely con­fi­dent he can be at the sharp end of the field.

Third- and fourth-placed, re­spec­tively, Matthew ‘Stinger’ Spratt and Brett ‘The Scud’ Rudd are the math­e­mat­i­cal un­der­dogs in the ti­tle fight. How­ever, this has been a sea­son of many curve balls, and al­most every driver has had a poor re­sult or un­ex­pected twist some­where along the line dur­ing the last five rounds. If Spratt and Rudd are com­pet­i­tive in their re­spec­tive KPH Trans­port and Loscam Hold­ens, and they have been for the last two rounds, they could be in with a real shot if Manuell and Moore hit prob­lems.

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