The V8 Ute of Jake Stoneman and Simon Ussher came within seconds of victory in Sunday morning’s Two-hour race of the Golden Homes NI Endurance Series at Pukekohe Park Raceway, Auckland.
Heavy rain provided ideal conditions for five heavy 1800kg V8 Utes to compete with a field of nimble BMW, Honda, Seat & Toyotas’.
Brett Rudd (Holden V8 Ute) caused a big upset, qualifying third overall with a 1.21.675 sec lap. With the other utes well-positioned around the middle of the order, confidence levels were high leading into Sunday’s race.
As 25 cars, competing in three categories, headed onto the track in full wets for the 9am start. Twenty minutes into the race, Rudd had moved up to second, Nick Ross seventh, Simon Ussher ninth and Greg Kroef tenth. An early trip to the pits saw Paul Fougere slip to 20th.
Just 35-minutes into the race, leader Ken Hunter (Chev Lumina) headed into the pits, gifting the lead to Rudd. A driver change for Ussher’s Ford ute after 48 minutes saw Jake Stoneman take command, quickly making up for the time lost in the pits with lap times in the mid 1.20’s as the rain eased.
After an hour and a quarter, Stoneman had climbed to second while Stu Monteith had taken over from Brett Rudd and was lapping nicely at seventh.
With just on 45-minutes remaining. Stoneman took the lead but, with four-laps from the chequered flag, a mysterious front-end vibration forced him to back off, handing the win to Hunter’s Chev Lumina.
The other story of the weekend for the utes was success of the three family teams. Phil Ross partnered cousin Nick to finish eighth, Brad Kroef driving father’s Ford finished ninth, and despite having to make a late pit stop for a tyre change, Alex Fougere did his dad proud finishing 11th.