Ryal Harris will carry a 27-point lead into next month’s ECB V8 Ute Racing Series finale after securing his second round win of 2017 at the Vodafone Gold Coast 600.
Harris started the final race of the weekend third on the grid, but made textbook moves on rivals Mason Barbera and Kim Jane.
He then pulled clear to take his eighth race win and third round win at the Surfers Paradise street circuit, the last for the current Utes package.
“My car was strong under brakes into Turn 11 all weekend, and I was able to overtake both Mason and Kim early on,” Harris said.
“I particularly wanted to win the last-ever V8 Ute race on the Gold Coast because it’s my home track, and I’m looking forward to celebrating tonight.
“Kim has been pushing me hard all year, so it’s good to open up some breathing space over him in the standings.”
Barbera initially finished level on points with Harris for the weekend, only missing the round win on a countback, but has been penalised for a collision with Jane in Race 3.
Contact at Turn 13 caused Jane to spin and fall to 10th, Barbera was handed a 30-second penalty, dropping him to 15th in the race and fifth in the round.
Jane had started the race trailing Harris by just three points, but is now 27 in arrears with only the Newcastle season finale.
“We had some teething problems early in the weekend but once we got on top of them, we were fast,” Barbera said.
Craig Dontas finished third to clinch the final podium position, and was elated with the result after a difficult start to the weekend.
“Considering our lack of outright pace in qualifying, I’m stoked to be on the podium,” Dontas said.
“After qualifying, I adopted an approach of staying out of trouble and finishing all the races, which paid dividends for us in the end.”
Marcus Zukanovic finally reversed his recent run of bad luck with a fourth-place finish ahead of Craig Woods and Maxim Erickson.
Zukanovic’s charge was not without drama, involved in a skirmish with Gus Robbins that led to Robbins hitting the wall at Turn 12.
Robbins rejoined the circuit, only to be forced wide by Blake Scibberas at the next corner, again making contact with the fence and bouncing into the path of Matt Nolan.
Robbins and Nolan’s cars both sustained heavy damage.
Joining them in retirement were Layton Barker and Richard Mork, after the former stalled on the grid and was clipped by the latter.