A fabulous drive from ninth on the grid to first at the flag was enough to seal the 2013 UDC V8 Utes Championship for series leader Chris 'Hammer Time' Hanley in the Stoneman Racing Brother Holden.
Hanley carefully picked his way through the field and was on the tail of pole sitter and race leader Geoff S.O.S. Spencer by lap seven. As the pair swept over the Pukekohe startline, Hanley made his move for the lead and made it stick. At the flag the race win - and the title - was his.
"I can't believe it, we've had an up and down season even though we've always been in the fight," he explained. "The race went really well and I'm just stoked to win it in front of a big crowd in this way. I couldn't have done it without Brother and the Stoneman boys, but now it's all out for the round win in the remaining races this weekend at the Mike Pero 500."
Spencer put in his best drive of the season, opening up a lead of a few car lengths early on as James 'Huggi' Urquart in the Mitre 10 Trade Holden and John Penny in the BNT Ford slugged it out for second and third, with Kris 'Killa' Walton closing fast from fifth on the grid.
Walton despatched Urquart and Penny with some classy moves through Pukekohe's new section, and gave chase to Spencer, catching him within a couple of laps in the Multispares Ford. The racing between the two was UDC V8 Utes action at its best with no quarter given, and as Walton dived down the inside of Spencer at Turn 4, the two cars touched and unfortunately Killa was left with a punctured off side front - sending him into the pits and retirement.
Penny acquitted himself exceptionally well in his first V8 Utes race - settling down into fourth in the early stages which became third when Walton retired. Kaos Ward passed him later on, but fourth was still an outstanding debut performance.
Other championship contenders Mike 'Buzz' Lightfoot and Peter 'Kaos' Ward had a race long mid field fight with Peter 'Rocketman' Rob and Urquart, and could not make the headway they needed to take the fight to Hanley and maintain a championship challenge. Ward bagged fastest lap of the race on lap six and did manage to fight his way to third in the closing stages – but it was not enough.
Hanley joins some illustrious company in the UDC V8 Championship winner's circle Chris Pither, Matt Lockwood and Andrew Waite are also former champs and are all blazing the trail in Australian Utes racing or competing in New Zealand's premier category the BNT V8 SuperTourers this weekend at the Mike Pero 500.
UDC V8 UTES – CHAMPIONSHIPS FINAL – PUKEKOHE MIKE PERO 500
1. Chris Hanley - Holden
2. Geoff Spencer - Holden
3. Peter Ward - Holden
4. John Penny - Ford
5. Peter Robb - Holden
6. Mike Lightfoot - Ford
7. James Urquart - Holden
8. Brett Rudd - Holden
9. Jeff Kernohan - Ford
10.Dave Kernohan - Ford
11. Rod Dawson - Ford
DNF Kris Walton - Ford