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Two races, two winners as the V8 Utes ignite a new season

There couldn’t have been a more exciting way to launch the 2022 RYCO 24•7 V8 Ute Racing championship as several emerging talents made their intentions felt during Saturday morning’s qualifying

We’d have expected the ultra-experienced Peter Ward to have had it all his own way, but Brad Kroef had bold ambitions as he topped the practice sheets on Friday at Hampton Downs. Come Saturday, it was father Greg who dominated qualifying, narrowly edging Peter Ward, with son Brad close behind in 3rd. Last season’s rising star Shane Dias slotted in at 4th with Phil Ross a much-improved 5tth in a tight 11-ute field. Even David Lowe was a big mover, settling comfortably into driving the RYCO 24•7 V8 Ute 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. But by lap 2, Peter Ward had his nose firmly in front. Shane Dias was holding firm in 3rd but a misfire was hampering him from putting pressure on 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 were extending their lead. Dias and Ross were shaking off the mid pack, but it wasn’t long before Brad Kroef had made his move around 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 the immensely popular Peter Ward collecting the spoils at the chequered flag.

Race 2 was a reverse-grid affair mixing the front runners with the challengers. As the lights went out, it was Paul Fougere’s turn to fumble the start, leaving the field to scurry around him. That left Brad Kroef to snatch the lead. Meanwhile, drama unfolded on turn 1 as there was contact between Shane Dias and Simon Ussher, causing a ripple effect on their side panels – and the field.

By lap 2 Stu Monteith was clinging onto 2nd, but Peter Ward had moved like a wrecking ball from 9th to 3rd in a single barn-storming lap. The running order further back was in turmoil as a misfiring Shane Dias slipped back through the field, while Greg Kroef was slicing through the tail enders. At the chequered flag, Brad Kroef held an insurmountable lead, Peter Ward claimed a hard-won 2nd while it was Stu Monteith’s maiden podium in 3rd.

After Greg Rust’s post race interview, Brad Kroef was clearly overcome with emotion as he realised what he had achieved.

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