| Taranaki Champs 11 Nov 06
Foxy won his first title of the new season on Saturday and is now the current Auckland, Waikato and Taranaki champ. A great start to the new season that we hope can only get better.
A SOS call from the Stratty guys mid week had us on the phone trying to track down some more guys willing to make the trip to Stratford for their local championship. Thanks have to go to both 29a Mark Wade and 99a Nathan Robertson who agreed to make the trip down at the last minute and join Foxy, Brian Jesen and Paul Blakeley and make up a strong showing of 5 cars representing Auckland.
Thanks also have to go to 5w Brian McPhee and “Mr Reliable” 9w Tama Arapere for fronting as well. (Mr reliable because you know Tama will always make the effort to support other tracks meetings).
These guys were joined by 3 locals, 71s John ”Jacko” Jackson, 55s Paul Ward and 77s Craig Ward to give a final field of 10 cars. I have been taking a bit of flak with my comments about the lack of support some other drivers have given this meeting but I think I am being fair. Last week Rotorua had 8 cars, Wellington 7 and Auckland 7. This makes the guts of 22 cars running and I can't understand why, when no other tracks were running mods on Saturday, some of these guys couldn't make the effort to support the Stratford track. All I can say is that thank god we decided to drop the North Island series this season because if this turnout were anything to go by it would have been a disaster!
Anyway back to something a bit more positive. The weather was dicy to say the least but we were all ready to go come 7pm on the dot. The field may have lacked numbers but the class of the cars was excellent with most having a realistic chance of taking out the title.
Stratty track is notoriously difficult to pass on once everyone gets up to speed, and Saturday was no different. All 3 races were won by cars starting from the front row and with little incident in the first 2 races there was very little passing. Heat 1 had us of grid 2 and Foxy shot out to win comfortably. There was little movement back in the field with, I think, Craig Ward being the biggest mover up only 2 spots from his starting position.
Starting from the outside line was a definite benefit back in the pack as we found out in heat 2 when we had a grid 7 start. This quickly had us on the backfoot as we got boxed in at the start and found ourselves running 9th on the track as both the guys on 8 and 10 were able to slingshot past us before we could get clear air. The next 12 laps were spent trying as hard as possible to claw back as many positions as we could. By race end Foxy had only been able to get back up to 5th, a gain of only 2 spots from his starting position and this was only down to passing 2 cars on the last lap!
Heading into the 3rd and deciding heat it was down to a 3-way shootout. Tama had the prime starting spot of grid 2 but had only 13 points. Foxy had a grid 8 start and 16 points and Craig Ward had a grid 9 start and 18 points. The result was going to be out of Tama's control as all he could do from the front was to win the race. The action was going to be back in the pack with Foxy having to get up to at least 3rd (assuming Tama won the race) and Craig only having to finish behind Foxy to claim the title. Believe it or not we were pretty happy with a grid 8 start and rated our chances because as mentioned above the outside was a damn site better starting position than an inside start like Craig's.
The plan was simple, push hard for the first couple of laps and make as much ground as possible before the race settled down, doing this would put pressure on Craig to keep up. Foxy got a great start and it went even better than we thought. Within 2 laps he had made some pretty impressive moves and had moved his way into 3rd. Craig however was stuck at the back of the pack like we thought would happen from his inside start and knew he now had to push hard to catch up. Push hard he did but this resulted in him coming a bit unstuck when he took to much pace into turn 1 and he clipped the wall doing front end damage and ending his chances.
As they formed up for the restart Foxy knew he had the title in the bag as he was running 3rd on the track and knew he only had to hold his spot to win the title. In between Tama and Foxy was Jacko and as the race went on you could see that Jacko was starting to struggle with set-up. Foxy took the smart option and sat back waiting to see what happened and after a few laps Jacko had a spin which allowed Foxy thru to 2nd which is how it finished.
Once the points were tallied up Foxy won from Tama with Brian Jesen having a good meeting coming home 3rd. Unfortunately due to time constraints the Ginge Heywood Memorial race was postponed to a later date, which is disappointing, as we are not sure if we will be able to make it back down. We will have to wait and see what date is chosen before being able to confirm.
Thanks to the guys down at Stratty for a great night and it is always a pleasure to come down to the Naki to race.
This week we are back at Waikaraka for Demo Derby night. The three Stratty boys who raced on Saturday have indicated they will be up for a run and a quick look at the Waikaraka track prior to the champs later in the season. With approx 10-11 local guys expected this will give us a field of at least 14 cars so will be a great night. Any other guys from out of town wanting to run should contact Paul Blakeley as there are not many spots left and it is first come first served.
Lastly congratulations to 4c Mike Gourley who took out the Canterbury Modified champs at the weekend in his first outing of the season! To get over the top of both Glen and Natasha on the night is a great effort and we hope to see Mike up here in Auckland for the double header early next year.
See ya at the Track