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Brad Kroef Wins The V8 Utes Title. Again.

Brad Kroef claimed his second NZV8 Utes championship at a drama-filled season decider at Hampton Downs. With the three title contenders separated by just 7 points coming into the weekebnd, the finale was destined to be a ripper. Plus, with several new drivers joining the series this season and some much-improved performances, Brad Kroef certainly had to earn his title.

After Alex Fougere (3rd in the points) was fastest in Qualifying then won the first race on Saturday climbing to second in the points race. That meant Sundays’ races would be critical.

Sunny skies meant perfect conditions for the morning’s reverse-grid race – yet it began in less than perfect fashion. After the rolling start, Kyan Davie and Brad Kroef came together on turn one. Next, Kyan and Alex Fougere collided, then Alex’s steering wheel came off. That’s right - off.

“It’s pretty hard to put the steering wheel back on and realign it during a race,” Alex admitted afterwards. “It was heart-stopping.” Fortunately it wasn’t race-stopping as Alex soldiered on - critical championship points were at stake.

Meanwhile Simon Ussher had found his way to the front and remained there unchallenged – the contenders were too busy squabbling for minor placings to threaten the lead. Paul Fougere & Stu Monteith came together on the sweeper, right on the last lap, damaging the rim on Paul’s Napa Auto Parts Holden while Stu slid into the kitty litter.

In a reverse-grid race the battle in the midfield is intense. Photo Credit: Dillon Photo NZ
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Simon Ussher took the chequered flag, Phill Ross overtook his way up to second, while Brad Kroef - unable to get around Phill - settled for 3rd bagging more points and consolidating his championship lead.

As for the altercation between Alex and Kyan, there were no hard feelings. After the race, they laughed it off with a hug and a reassuring show of support; a vivid reminder that in V8 Ute racing, fierce competitors on track remain firm friends after the chequered flag.

With so much at stake, for the final race on Sunday, the V8 Utes managed to get the circuit all to themselves after a season sharing the track with the TA2s and Open V8 categories.

Reigning champion Brad Kroef was on the front row, but in the rolling start, Phill Ross got the jump and shot to the lead. Brad didn’t flinch, quickly regaining the lead into turn one. Also on a charge was Kyan Davie - after starting 6th, he was up to 5th by the second lap. When Greg Kroef locked-up coming into the dipper, it unlocked the door to 4th place and Kyan marched through.

Meanwhile, Phill Ross also had a point to prove - and points to be won. Phill was throwing everything into it. But after sitting in 3rd, rounding the sweeper alongside Greg Kroef, Phill went wide, slipped off into the kitty litter, and with it, his 4th place in the championship slipped away.

After ten incident-packed laps, Alex Fougere muscled the Ward Demolition Holden ute to the chequered flag, Kyan Davie fought a clinical race elevating his Yale Forklift-backed Holden to 2nd, while Brad Kroef cruised to 3rd. Critically he’d done enough – and the V8 Utes championship was his.

As Brad said after winning his second V8 Utes title in a row, “I had to work harder for it this year. It’s a relief. Very satisfying.” So as the V8 Utes head to winter hibernation, there are some big plans in the pipeline for an even bigger 2024/25 season. Watch this space.

Words: Glenn Churches

Race Two
1stSimon Ussher 
2nd Phill Ross+1.605
3rdBrad Kroef+2.303
4thGreg Kroef+2.917
5thBlair Gribble-Bowing+6.613
6thKyan Davie+6.899
7thBruce McRae 
8thAlex Fougere 
9thDaniel Ludlam 
10thPaul Fougere 
11thJeremy Hunt 
DNFStuart Monteith 
Race Three
1stAlex Fougere 
2nd Kyan Davie+0.450
3rdBrad Kroef+3.085
4thGreg Kroef+7.669
5thSimon Ussher+7.829
6thDaniel Ludlam+8.359
7thBlair Gribble-Bowring+11.429
8thStuart Monteith+17.142
9thPaul Fougere+28.346
10thJeremy Hunt+4 laps
DNFPhill Ross0
DNFBruce McRae0
NZV8 Utes 2023/24 Championship Points
ChampionBrad Kroef943 Points
2nd Alex Fougere922 “
3rdGreg Kroef895 “
4thSimon Ussher684 “
5thPhill Ross682 “
6thStu Monteith579 “
7thPaul Fougere558 “
8thKyan Davie508 “
9thBruce McRae489 “
10thBlair Gribble-Bowing460 “
11thDaniel Ludlam417 “
12thJeremy Hunt210 “
13thGrant Bowring122 “

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