Perth Champion returns to Barbagallo V8 Ute Field

Two-time V8 Ute Champion Grant Johnson will step into his Holden VE for the first time this year in the Auto One V8 Ute Racing Series – protected by Armor All at Barbagallo Raceway, 4 – 6 May.

The father of two has been on the podium both times the V8 Utes have raced at the Western Australian track (2nd in 2008), winning the Round last year, which put him in good stead to take fourth overall for the year. Johnson has held the lap record since 2008 and is keen to keep it that way and reclaim the round win.

“I’ve always been pretty strong there (Barbagallo) and don’t see why this time will be any different. We are a bit behind where the other teams are, having not run all year but we don’t think that will be detriment to the result."

"We hold the lap record and we definitely want to try and make it better if we can. We are pretty happy with everything that happened with the test yesterday and we are moving in the right directions, John (Pachos, Team Manager) is one of the best engineers in Australia so how can we not win,” explained a confident Johnson. 

Sixty one year old Rick Gill will also make a return to his home-track. In 2011, he posted third fastest in Qualifying and third for Race 1, had mechanical issues in Race 2 causing him to DNF and ending with a 16th overall for the round. The WA Sporting Car Club Committee member is eager to make for a better result this year.

“It’s exciting to be back in the Utes. I always have a great time racing them and especially in front of a home-crowd. I love racing at Barbagallo and it will be good to post some more good results this time round. Last year was a little disappointing but unfortunately that’s sometimes what happens in motorsport,” he said.

Series leader Nathan Pretty is confident his Monster Energy Holden will be fast around the track, after claiming third overall at the event last year and setting the lap record at Round 2 in Tasmania recently.

“We’re really looking forward to it. We were fast there last year but didn’t qualify very well but we’ve really improved on our qualifying this year so it would be great to replicate what we did there last year and coming off our first Round win in Tassie it would be great to repeat that one,” said Pretty.

Rookie Kris Walton is only one point behind Pretty on the ENZED driver’s championship leader-board, and will hit the Barbagallo track for the first time next week.

Queenslander Ryal Harris has a great track record at the event, on the podium in 2008 and claiming Race 2 last year. Veteran Kim Jane is also set to be fast in his Bob Jane T-Mart Holden, just missing out on the podium the last two times with a 4th last year and 5th overall in 2008 after claiming Race 2.

There will be seven local drivers competing at the Trading Post Perth Challenge including: Brothers Rhys and Jake McNally, Allan Letcher, Rick Gill, Grant Johnson, Auto One Wildcard driver Adam Marjoram and Rookie Travis Sharpe.

Returning to the field for the second time this year is part-time model Hayley Swanson who will drive the Bay Developments backed Holden.

See below full schedule for the V8 Utes at the Trading Post Perth Challenge. Friday, 4 May         Practice 1     8:55amFriday, 4 May        Practice 2     2:00pmSaturday, 5 May    Qualifying     9:40amSaturday, 5 May    Race 1         1:15pmSunday, 6 May      Race 2         8:50amSunday, 7 May      Race 3         3:50pm

Race 1 will be televised live as on Network Seven on Saturday, 5 May in the Raceday Xtra broadcast.

The 2012 Series consists of 25 races over eight rounds raced throughout Australia covering six states and one territory and is televised nationally through-out Australia on Network Seven and 7 Mate, and internationally through Motors TV Europe, TV3 New Zealand and SPEED online in the USA.