Oct 20, 2014
DRAMATIC DAY AT WAKEFIELD PARK AS KUMHO LEADERS COLLIDE
Ruggier seizes V8 Touring Car lead with Sydney finale to decide champion
KUMHO Tyres Australian V8 Touring Car Series combatants Justin Ruggier and Ryan Simpson will take the fight for the series crown to Sydney Motorsport Park in a fortnight’s time after colliding in today’s deciding race of the penultimate round at Wakefield Park.
Despite the collision in the final race, Eggleston Motorsport driver Ruggier was able to clinch his first Kumho Series round victory to move into the series lead with one round to go.
He now holds a provisional 34-point advantage over Simpson with 143 points on offer in the final round.
Ruggier claimed his first Kumho Series pole position on Saturday – thus stopping Simpson’s streak of eight poles – and in doing so claimed the critical three series points that went with it to tie Simpson for the series lead.
He won Race 1 on Saturday and then took today’s Race 2 after passing Simpson approaching half race distance.
Ruggier got the jump on Simpson at the start of the longer Race 3 only for the Falcon driver to lock a brake entering Turn 2 at the start of the second lap and collide with the leading Commodore.
The contact sent both drivers off the track with Simpson pitting and rejoining two laps down (eventually finishing eighth and last) and Ruggier forced to start a fight back through the field.
The Commodore driver hunted down the field to catch the leaders and finish third – the points haul still enough for him to claim the round victory.
Drew Russell, making his second series start in STR Racing’s ex-Brad Jones Racing Falcon, took advantage of the clash between Ruggier and Simpson and seized the lead.
He never gave it up to take victory in the 22-lap final clear of Matt Chahda, the recovering Ruggier, Matt Palmer and Steve Briffa. The win also gave Russell second overall for the round.
Poco Commodore driver Briffa had been on target for his first Kumho Series podium result until a spin, opening the door for Chahda to claim the final podium position – the second of his career.
Simpson finished fourth for the weekend in his ex-Craig Lowndes Falcon with Briffa fifth from Palmer, John Vergotis and debutante Brendon Strong, who survived a few spins in his ex-Lansvale Commodore.
Coverage of this weekend’s round of the series will be shown on SBS’ ‘Speedweek’ next Sunday October 26 with a one-hour program to follow at a later date on SPEED TV Australia.
The final round of the series will be held at Sydney Motorsport Park on November 1/2.