Alexandra Whitley gives us a review of her New Zealand V8 Utes round at the Pukekohe Park Raceway over the weekend……
The first Round of the New Zealand V8 ute series kicked off over the weekend of the 7th, 8th and 9th of December at Pukekohe Park Raceway. The lead up has been long and tough working hard on my fitness and mental mindset, sponsorship and preparing the LDV V8 ute. Hard work and persistence paid off as we were able to go racing and make history by being the first female to ever win a V8 Ute Championship race in the 12 years it has been running.
Joining forces with multiple series champion Paul Manuell and Brett Rudd to form RAM Racing, we rolled out Friday morning for our first practice session with clear goals and how to achieve them in mind. All three of as were inside the top 8 for the sessions.
I ran old used tyres for practice and was confident that fresh rubber would find the few tenths we were missing. I qualified 6th place and although I was disappointed I didn’t let it get the better of me and knew I would move forward in the races. The racing is closer than ever having suspension parody tuned, with only 1.2 seconds from fastest to slowest on track.
Race 1 was late Saturday afternoon, I got a great start and immediately moved forward the front pack was tight! As I was being passed by another ute they fair and square hit my front wheel which caused my steering to bend, I was slowly dropped from the front runners, but managed to hold my position and bring it home where I started in 6th place. We made some changes overnight and re-wheel aligned the steering.
Sunday mornings race was the reverse top 10 grid, which placed me 5th. The race started, and I was quickly muscled back to 7th place and almost equal 8th coming down the back straight! I put my head down and pushed on. Focusing forwards on the next pass I needed to make, utes spun in front of me which I had to avoid, they passed each other and some cleaner than others, I maximized my exits and soon found my way to second place with one lap to go. I hung like a bad smell to the ute in front and pressured him into a mistake, he missed a gear and was the easiest pass I would make all weekend; however, I had a Falcon right on my tail who wanted the win just as bad as me. I hung on to take not only my first win for the season, but RAM Racing and first female in history to win a V8 ute race in New Zealand and Australia.
The whole team and I were pumped! It was great to prove we have speed and even though we didn’t qualify where we had hoped, we still made the most of every opportunity. It was a rewarding win and showed all the hard work pre-season and race paid off.
Heading into the final race later that afternoon I was equal second with 2 other drivers, they had both out qualified me and started in front. 4th on the grid I was confident I could drive to the win again. Lights went out! No go! I had stalled on the start line!, as quick as I could think I roared the engine into life and drove off, as I looked into my rear view mirror a ute behind had locked up every wheel to avoid contact to my rear end, and I’m so thankful he did! I had made it difficult for myself, and again I carved my way through the field and salvaged a 7th place. Only to find out I had a deflating tire the whole time.
From the highs of a race win to the lows of stalling on the start line, overall it was a weekend full of learning and I absolutely can’t wait to bring home another race win for the Team.
To the team and all my sponsors thank you so much for your support, this race win is as much yours as it is mine and there’s plenty more to come.