Ryal Harris has claimed his first V8 Ute win at the Clipsal 500 in four years, bringing it home for Ford in Race 1, Round 1 of the 2015 East Coast Bullbars Australian V8 Ute Racing Series on the streets of Adelaide, Friday, 27th February.
Unfortunately for Harris, the race was a qualifying race to set the grid for Race 2, and carried no series points.Pole winner Rhys McNally threw it away for Holden in the final minutes of the race, after bending a steering arm on the Turn 1 Tyre wall.
Harris didn’t move into the top spot until late in the race, mowing down both Kris Walton and McNally from third. The former champ started on the second row behind Rentco Racing’s Kris Walton in the Ford line-up with Rhys McNally on the front row leading out the Holden’s. Both Harris and McNally had great starts leaving the Rentco Ford of Walton behind, however the reigning champion wasn’t going to give up that easily, fighting in the final seconds of the race and almost taking Harris on the last few corners.
Harris pushed to the end, taking the lead off Walton on lap four in a spectacular move at the final turn onto the main-straight.
“It was disappointing with the Qualifying format but I knew we had the pace to do it I just had to bide my time, it’s so hard to pass Kris (Walton) he can be so aggressive and you have to be just as aggressive to pass him so it’s going to be hard keeping the friendship in-tacked this year but I really want that third championship and I’ll do anything to get it,” said Harris.
Walton pushed his Rentco Ford hard during the race and was lucky to escape a 5 second kerb hoping penalty and will hold on to second, starting on the front row alongside Harris in tomorrow’s second race.
“We had a bit of fun out there, the car wasn’t so good at the start of the race but towards the end it was really good, we’ll be starting off the front row, so we’ll see if we can get a win,” said Walton.
Superb defensive driving kept McNally in the lead until Lap 5, before the All Purpose Pest Control Ford of Harris made a move again under brakes at the final turn. One lap later, Walton took McNally in the same spot, the West Aussie dropping back to 18th on the final lap with handling issues.
“The boys had a quicker car than us and we pushed a little too hard and unfortunately we came un-stuck, the hit didn’t feel too bad but the tyre bundle basically pulled the left wheel off the car and the car wouldn’t’ turn right, but we’ll come back, we have good pace, I’m pretty disappointed but that’s racing,” explained a frustrated McNally.
Auto One/ Erebus Motorsport’s Adam Marjoram claimed third, ahead of local driver Craig Dontas in the Just Car Insurance Holden in fourth.
Multispares Racing’s Ryan Hansford was fifth through the chequered flag, followed by fellow Ford drivers, iseek/ EES Racing’s George Miedecke, JMG Racing’s Jeremy Gray and Mango Credit’s Dave Sieders in eighth, Sieders struggling with a broken steering rack the whole race.
Burbank Homes backed Nathan Pretty finished ninth and OPS Gateway/ Ryco 24-7’s Gerard McLeod in tenth.
Mason Barbera was the first Rookie over the line, just narrowly missing the top ten (11th overall), however was hit with a 5 second penalty for kerb hopping, dropping back to 14th and only two spots ahead of rival and local Jordan Skinner finishing in a solid 16th.
The V8 Utes will be back on track for Race 2 tomorrow Saturday, 28th February at 10:45am and race 3 at 9am Sunday, 1st March.
There is still 140 points up for the grabs over the weekend (70 points for each race). Rhys McNally currently leads the ARMOR ALL Drivers Championship on three points after claiming the ARMOR ALL Pole Award yesterday, the only driver to receive any points until tomorrow’s race.
All races will be televised on Live through Fox Sports and in a delayed telecast on Network Ten (Race 2, 12:15pm (local time) and Race 3, 1:30pm (local time)).
More Quotes:Harris on his move and the weekend:“We still have two tyres in reserve so starting off the front row tomorrow we’ll just get a clean start and hopefully get a win there and hopefully walk away with three for the weekend.”
Walton on Harris’s move and the battle for the win:“He got it in at the end he pushed me a bit to get it in there but we’re racing that close these things are going to happen so I’ll get him back eventually throughout the year, It’s going to be a hard year, Ryal’s come out strong I’ve come out strong so it’s going to be a long year for us,” said Walton