After two successful rounds of the ENZED V8 Ute Challenge thus far, Holden driver Caine Lobb heads to Invercargill's Teretonga Park Raceway and then Timaru International Motor Raceway looking to maintain his first place in the series.
An early lead after the opening round became an enlarged points deficit between himself and defending champion Chris Pither of 141 points after the second round at Ruapuna in November. This has enabled the Whangarei driver and Mark Cromie Holden Racing Team to sit well atop of the field at this stage with Christchurch's Simon Beirne becoming Lobb's closest rival sitting in second place 43 points behind.
"We have a pretty good lead over Chris who has had some car problems in the first couple of rounds and can probably afford to finish behind him through to the end of the season." said Lobb.
Round three of the ENZED V8 Ute Challenge and Motorsport New Zealand's Premier Championship Series is held this weekend at Invercargill before heading to Timaru next week for round four.
Hard charging rivals in the challenge, Lobb and Pither, have continued to race door handle to door handle this season as they did previously with some extremely close contests. Especially so in the final races of each contested round so far due to safety car interventions where at both the opening round of Pukekohe and then at Ruapuna Lobb managed to pull sizable gaps ahead of the rest of the field only to have the safety car deployed.
At Pukekohe in November Lobb lost a major lead to the safety car and then tussled with Pither over first place managing to pip him at the finish line in front of a enthralled audience. At Ruapuna later on that month Lobb led the field by approxiamately the length of the main straight but it was slashed to nil by yet another safety car intervention. Pither managed to slip past him after the restart taking advantage of the more nimble Ford on the tight and technical circuit in the closing laps.
The opposing drivers apparently have nothing or little between them and have provided spectators with ample entertainment as they battle for race wins long may it continue.
This weekend it is uncertain which manufacturer the variable Teretonga Park Raceway will favour with the Holdens having performance restrictions enforced this season to keep parity with the Fords.
"Both seem to get similar lap times on the circuit but the Holdens and Fords make it up at different parts of the track so it will be interesting to see how we go this weekend." said Lobb.
The ENZED V8 Ute Challenge gets underway this weekend with practice sessions on Friday followed by qualification Saturday morning 9.40am and Race One in the afternoon at 2.50pm. The action continues with Race Two on Sunday morning at 11.10am and Race Three in the afternoon at 2.50pm.