Barbera records best-ever finish in V8 Utes competition
"THE championship is up for grabs.”
Bundaberg's Mason Barbera is confident this season could be the year he wins the V8 Utes title.
In his best performance in the category so far, the 19-year-old finished second overall in the first round of the championship in the Victorian town of Winton.
The former karter excelled on the tight and tricky circuit to win two out of the three races after also claiming pole position for the weekend.
It was a good return to form after a frustrating first event in Phillip Island last month, when he finished second last.
Thankfully that didn't count for points
"I loved the weekend,” Barbera said.
"It was great racing the other drivers and we showed our speed and the car was fast.”
But for it could have been better for Barbera.
Leading the opening race of the weekend, from pole position, the IOR Petroleum driver was spun around by fellow driver Markus Zukanovic into turn 12 while he was on track for the win.
It forced Barbera to the back where he claw his way to seventh place.
Zukanovic ended up taking the win with stewards deeming the contact a racing incident.
"It was an incident where a penalty could have been handed to the other driver,” Barbera said.
"In the end, though, I didn't put in a complaint.”
Barbera, in a sign of good sportsmanship, told the Supercars website that everyone was racing hard and they wanted to put on a good show for the round.
Unfortunately the incident cost him his first round win in the category.
The Ford driver stormed to the front to win race two by less than a second before taking out race three by three seconds.
Barbera fell short of the round win by three points as Kim Jane won with three second place finishes and better consistency.
He is now second in the championship heading into the final five rounds of the season.
"It's a shame we missed out on the round win,” he told the Supercars website.
"But we're only three points behind Kim, so it's a good start to our championship and we set the fastest lap in all three races, so we know we have really good speed.”
Barbera will now compete in both the V8 Utes series and the Dunlop 2 Series after the success in the first round.
"At this stage I will be doing the rest of the championship,” he said.
His preference will be the Dunlop Super 2 Series with Garry Rogers Motorsport.
But that doesn't mean he will not chase down the V8 Utes title if the opportunity comes along.
"It will be tough but we are fast,” he said.
"We are confident we can do well.”
The 19-year-old will now take a break from the sport before heading to Townsville for the next round of the championship in just under two months.
He will race both the Dunlop Super 2 Series and the V8 Utes at the next round which will held on July 8 and 9.