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Contrasting meets 01/12/07-15/12/07

Great weather, great location, great people but average result.

11 cars fronted in Rotorua for the running of the 2007/08 Bay of Plenty Modified Champs on the 1st December. 6 of these cars were from Auckland and it was great to see the guys support another tracks meeting.

Sonja and her team at Paradise Valley have done a remarkable job in transforming the venue into what you see today and they deserve all the praise that they get from the Stockcar fraternity. Other tracks should take note of what they are doing and learn a few things.

As we all know Rotorua is a challenging venue for the mods as the track is small and tight hence the reality that the venue and 16+ mods just don’t go together. The track is normally pretty slick but the team down there has also made inroads into this as well with new surface added during the off season helping to improve the race surface. Although still not the driviest surface around for mods it has improved immensely and the mod guys should be happy with what the promotion team now supply on race nights.

Heat 1 and Foxy drew grid 10. The only car behind him on the grid was the 78a car of Ray Chatfield. The track was a little bit greasy at the start but was good enough to allow Foxy to make some good passes, good enough in fact to see Foxy move up to 6th entering turn 1 for the 2nd lap of the race and challenging for 4th. Unfortunately exiting turn 2 on this lap 18r got turned around and this triggered the caution lights. Going back a lap Foxy should have restarted in 6th place behind 15r and in front of 6a but the officials saw it differently and put us back to 7th behind 6a. Maybe the loop is not in line with the start finish line as this is the only reason we can come up as to why this happened. On the restart Foxy started to challenge Brian again and once again got underneath him exiting turn 4 while Brian was running wide to try and pass 15r. This bit us on the bum a tad as 15r half spun and came down on Foxy pushing him into the infield. Foxy kept the gas hard down and shot across the infield coming back onto the track entering turn 3 having lost another couple of places. Looked like it wasn’t going to be our night! Fair to say we missed the setup a bit for this first race and it took Foxy the remaining laps to work his way past a few guys to come home in 5th. On returning to the pits Foxy was summoned up to the refs box and duly relegated 2 places for the incident with 15r. Not sure what exactly you are supposed to do when a guy nearly T-bones you and drives you into the infield!

Video Clip Heat 1
 

Heat 2 and a grid 5 start. Changes were made to the car which seemed to make a pretty big difference and it wasn’t long before Foxy was challenging Brian in 6a (who started from grid 1) for the lead. Foxy threw everything he had at Brian looking for an opportunity to make the pass but Brian held firm and took a well deserved race win.

Video Clip Heat 2

Heat 3 and we were down to start from grid 3. 55s Paul Ward was off 2 and there was a gap on grid 1 as 78a didn’t start. Foxy was able to get alongside Paul Ward at the start and the two were banging off each other entering the 1st turn. Foxy came out of this the best and inherited the lead. 56a Paul Blakeley (from grid 4) then entered into his own battle with Paul Ward and this resulted in Paul Ward getting turned around forcing the yellows. 55s was deemed to be the cause of the stoppage and sent to the rear. The rest of the race was fairly uneventful with Foxy comfortably holding off 56a for the win. Thru a combination of good luck and good driving Brian Jesen in 6a did enough to work his way thru to 3rd from grid 11 and take the title. Foxy took 2nd even after his disastrous heat 1 debacle and Jacko 71s took 3rd after a challenging runoff with 56a Paul Blakeley.

Congrats to Brian for his first ever title, he has been racing for a number of years and been on the podium a number of times for various events but this is the first time sitting in the #1 spot.

Video Clip Heat 3 Part 1

Video Clip Heat 3 Part 2

North Island champs.

19 cars finally fronted at Waikaraka on Saturday for the running of the 2007/08 North Island Modified Champs. Being the first big major event for the class this season the drivers were pretty excited. It was disappointing to have a few no shows with 2nz doing all he could to make the big event by towing down to Rotorua on Friday night to get his one run in to qualify. Unfortunately engine gremlins let him down and this resulted in him missing Saturday’s event. Another few competitive no shows were 10s, 4s and 5w.

Stratford was well represented even without 2 of their more notable stars with 11s, 55s, 71s, 77s and 121s all fronting. Tama was the sole Wellington entrant and it is disappointing that he continues to be the only Wellington competitor willing to make the effort to support the class at events outside of their home track. Closer to home we had 3 cars front from Rotorua with 15r, 16r and 18r all attending. The remaining 10 cars were all local guys with 1nz, 3nz, 6a, 7a, 18a, 29a, 56a, 78a, 86a and 99a making up the numbers.

With 19 cars fronting there was no need for qualifying so we were straight into the main event of 3 x 20 lap races (front, middle back championship format). The track was a bit of a surprise as when we arrived we could not believe how dry it was. The team looked to have done a good job getting rid of the big ruts that had been evident at the last meeting at the park, but we were concerned that this may result in a slick hard packed race surface. Giving the guys their due the track was pretty good. I can’t remember seeing a Waikaraka track as dusty as Saturday nights but there were no ruts and most importantly there was more than one race line you could run.

Heat 1 and Foxy drew grid 19. To be honest we were pretty happy with this draw because we knew being last on the grid there was only one way you could go! After some debate it was decided that the best plan of attack was for Foxy to sit back at the start and let everyone sort themselves out before attempting any risky passing maneuvers, after all the race was 20 laps and we didn’t want another disaster like we had in heat 1 of the NZ champs last year.
At the start the inevitable banging and crashing you expect in heat 1 of a championship ensued and Foxy just calmly played about at the back of the pack passing a couple of cars in the process. As expected it didn’t take long for the first caution when a coming together of 29a, 6a and 1nz resulted in 1nz hitting the wall ending his race. This incident also ended Brains’ race in the 6a car as well with a torn right rear. Once the restart order was established Foxy found himself running 12th, this soon became 11th when on the first attempt to restart the race Jacko in 71s lost a front wheel while in the lead. The race was now about 4 laps old and it was on this restart that Foxy was happy enough to start making his way thru the field. After another couple of laps Foxy found himself coming up behind Tama in the 9w car but before he could get close enough to mount a challenge Tama’s race (and night) came to an end with mechanical problems forcing him to the infield.
While all this was going on in the pack there was a ding dong battle going on up front with 29a Mark Wade holding the lead and 11s, 121s, 55s. 77s and 56a all dicing it up trying to get past. I was amazed that there was no major incident in this battle as cars were ducking and diving everywhere. Just as Foxy joined this battle 56a Paul Blakeley (grid 8 start) was able to break away from it by getting past Wadey and he quickly pulled away in the lead. The next few laps were nerve racking for us to watch as Foxy ran high and low to try and find his way past this log jam of cars without hanging out of the fence. It seemed to take forever but eventually he was able to get past 11s, 121s, 55s and 29a and get some clear air. He was now 3rd on the track and closing in on 77s Craig Ward. With laps running out Foxy pushed hard to close the gap to Craig and a nice inside pass resulted in Foxy moving into 2nd. With only a lap or two to run at this stage there was no time left to catch Paul and challenge for the lead but we were more than happy with a 2nd placing from our grid 19 start.
After heat 1 the championship had lost 4 of the more favored competitors including the current title holder with 1nz, 6a, 9w and 71s all DNF’ing.

Video Clip Heat 1

Heat 2 – grid 10.
1nz, 6a and 71s were all able to get the repairs done to make it out for this event with Tama being the only notable non starter. Foxy got a good start and was quickly past 77s and a few others in front of him. Allan in 1nz was making full use of his grid 1 start and was enjoying a comfortable lead. After about 4-5 laps Foxy made his way into 2nd and started to chase down Allan. After a few laps Foxy had caught Allan and was starting to mount some pressure. There was no doubt that Foxy had a speed advantage but try as he might he couldn’t find a way past Allan for what seemed an age. With about 4-5 laps to run Foxy got his chance when the two guys got into lapping traffic and he took the highline and executed a nice pass on Allan and Mark Wade in the 29a car. Once in the front Foxy was able to slowly pull away from Allan but with more traffic coming into play on the last lap, Allan ended up finishing right on Foxys bumper at the checkered flag. 3rd home was 77s and Paul Blakeley had a great drive from grid 18 to come home in 4th.
Now you would think that having a 1st and a 2nd from the first two heats would give you a pretty healthy points lead heading into the last race… wrong! On returning to the pits after heat 2 the 1nz car was relegated to last place for being over width at the rear. This resulted in both 77s and 56a inheriting a bonus point and so heading into heat 3 Foxy only enjoyed a 1 point advantage over 56a with another solitary point back to 77s. We would however have the advantage of starting in front of these guys in the last race.

Video Clip Heat 2

Heat 3 – grid 1
It was now a 4 horse race for the 3 podium places between 3nz, 56a, 77s and 11s (5 points behind Foxy). Paul was to start from grid 4 and Craig was leaving from 7.
Foxy won the start over 86a Glen Hughes and instantly started to open up a healthy lead. Paul was having all sorts of problems making progress from his grid 4 start as first 78a and then 86a showed good pace and didn’t really give Paul any opportunities to pass. Back in the pack there was very little movement either and as the laps wound down Foxy continued to widen the gap between him and the rest. About distance Glen’s impressive drive in 2nd ended when a spinning 15r left Glen no where to go while getting ready to lap him. Glen plowed into him hard ending Glen’s race and gifting Paul 2nd place. On the restart Foxy again streaked away from the field and Paul was unable to make his way past the lapped traffic in between him and Foxy.
Back in the pack Craig did enough to cement his 3rd placing overall by finishing just behind 11s Merv Julian.
In the final points wash-up Foxy ended up with 56 out of a possible 57 and you would think that this makes it very comfortable but with Paul finishing just 2 points back it was far from being so. Congrats to Paul and Craig for their 2nd and 3rd placings. I also thought that 11s Merv Julian, 121s Stuart Rose, 29a Mark Wade and 86s Glen Hughes all had some impressive moments as well.
On the night Foxy undoubtedly had a small speed advantage over the rest and recorded the fastest laps times in all 3 heats… luckily for us on the night the fastest car on the track did win and Foxy was wrapped to win his 3rd North Island title and in doing so join only Roger Bertram (3 titles) and Murray Gordge (5 titles) as the only 3 guys to win the title more than twice.

Video Clip Heat 3

Thanks to Roger and the team from Container Sales & Leasing for their continued support and it was great to have them, and Brian from BDC Eng, at the track on the night. The aim now is to try and replicate this type of performance at this seasons NZ Champs in Wellington at the end of January.

The next meeting for us will be at Waikaraka on the 5th January and this could be our last run before the title so we are treating it as an important meeting to attend. It sounds like another 3 cars will be ready for this meeting with 21a, 36a and 41a all suggesting they will be in attendance. This will make for a nice size field even if no visitors attend.

Foxy and the boys would like to wish everyone a merry Xmas and a happy new year. Please drive carefully over the holiday season and keep the racing to the track.

See you all in the New Year.

Team Fox

 

 

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