| Taranaki Champs – 10th November 2007
Hot on the track but a tad cold off it (not to mention dusty)!
It was great to catch up with the Stratty boys at the weekend and support their local championship for the modified class. Things didn't go our way but we had a great time and learned a lot about the car.
Stratford is a fast modified track and tends to be very slick. This makes passing difficult once the cars get up to speed and can lead to follow the leader types of events. Saturday was no different with every race being won by a car off the front and very little passing.
The locals would have to be happy with the mods they have this year. The Ward bros are still out there doing it with Jacko and the new twin cars of Merv Julian and Stuart Rose look the goods as well. Throw in 7s Mike Jury and the likes of Mark Dixon and Willy Noonan not far away and you have an extremely competitive field of 8 cars. I expect the action to be thick and fast down there this season.
Foxy was joined by fellow Aucklanders Brian Jesen and Nathan Robertson on the haul down on Saturday. Unfortunately Nathans night didn't last long when he broke a driveshaft in the first heat and had to park up for the night. 18r Dennis Hansen is another who made the trip down and he showed some good speed. The other visitor on the night was some fellow from Wellington in a green car. Looks like Tama might be trying to make the most of the new weight ruling which takes into account the car and the driver. I think the plan is to have a light car and make the weight up with the driver! (just joking mate, must have been living the good life too much during the off season!!)
Heat 1 had us off grid 1 next to the new Terminator chassis of Merv Julian. Foxy and Merv raced a lot together back in the days when Merv was one of the front runners in the class and it was great to see him on the track again. Foxy won the start and built up a bit of a gap over the field. Merv ran into a wee smoking problem and retired to the infield while the officials collected the large side of the 7s wing that decided to detach itself from the car. The restart race order was 3nz, 77s, 71 and 9w. Foxy opened up a 2-3 car length lead over Craig who in turn opened up a lead from Jacko and try as Tama did to get around Jacko there was no way thru and this is how they finished. An example of how difficult it was to pass can be seen by the fact that Tama started on grid 5 and could only manage 4th. This was only achievable with Merv retiring earlier in the race!
Heat 2 had us leaving from grid 6. The front row had Tama on 1 and Jacko on 2. Jacko won the start and was again able to keep Tama at bay by holding track position. Foxy was able to slip past a couple of cars and move up to 4th behind Brian Jesen but could get no further. Craig Wards race ended when he had an incident with Merv Julian which resulted in Craig retiring from the race.
After heat 2 the point's situation was Jacko with 20 points leaving from grid 7. Foxy with 19 points leaving from grid 8 and Tama with 18 points leaving from grid 9. The Ward bros were to leave from grids 1 and 2. The start was frenetic with Foxy running on the outside of Jacko for the first two laps trying to get his nose in front but the inside line was the race line and Foxy eventually had to break off the challenge and slip back behind Jacko. All he could do now was to pressure Jacko and hope for a mistake, exactly what Tama had tried to do in the first 2 heats. About ? distance the car was hooking up well and Foxy was able to get on the inside, and next to, Jacko exiting turn 4 but this is where it went pear shaped. Exiting turn 4 Paul Ward had spun leaving his brother Craig no where to go and both cars blocked the track. Jacko and Foxy took evasive action as did Tama and Brian who were just behind. Cars were diving to the infield while the Ward brothers started up and drove off again meaning no yellow light! Foxy skewed across the infield, came back onto the track in the middle of turns 1 and 2 dead last and promptly stopped to force the yellows. There was some ”discussion” with regard the race order on the restart with Foxy pretty determined to rejoin the race back where he was when the incident happened. The rule is a bit unfair with regard restarting order in that you can be an innocent party with regard the incident on the track but if you end up being the reason for the yellows to be thrown due to damage incurred in the incident you need to go to the back. While all this was being sorted Foxy realised what we all could see, in that he had a dead flat right rear due to the incident so rightfully pulled the car infield. With us out of the race my interest levels dropped a bit but it still looked to me that they had the restart order wrong with Tama starting in front of Jacko but luckily it didn't impact on the final result.
Jacko was deemed the winner on the night and he drove his guts out for it. He wasn't the fastest on the night but he drove smart and protected the track position he had. Tama and Foxy both put him under a lot of pressure at various stages but he didn't crack so well done mate.
Due to our demise Tama was 2nd and Craig Ward did enough to capture 3rd, again congrats guys and we hope to see all 3 of you later in the season.
This weekend a meeting has been added to the Waikaraka calendar to make up for earlier rainouts. The mods are the star attraction and we hope to have approx 12-16 cars. The plan is to run a 25 lapper as the feature and we look forward to running with 1nz for the first time this season. It should be a good gauge as to where we currently fit in the scheme of things.
See ya at the track.