Auckland Champs / Waikaraka Park
The new Container Sales & Leasing #11a modified finally hit the track for the first time this season at Waikaraka on Saturday night. Jumping straight into a championship, meeting with 4 of the leading contenders for this years NZ champs competing, was not the ideal first meeting of the year but we had little option.
10 cars fronted for the meeting, but what the class lacked in numbers was more than compensated for with quality. The field was headed by defending champ 19a Scotty Lane and South Island hotshot 29e Glen Leech. Throw in the Pacific Urethane boys of 3nz Paul Blakeley and 6a Brian Jesen and we knew the meeting was going to be no cakewalk. Understandably our expectations were some what guarded.
The standard 3 race championship format was used and a mistake was made with the grid draw for heat 2. Luckily I don't think it really ended up impacting on the final result.
Heat 1 and Foxy drew grid 2. Glen Leech had grid 1, Paul Blakeley was leaving from 4, Brian from 5 and Scotty from 9. For the first few seconds at the start it looked like we hit the ground running as Foxy was able to get in front of Glen and lead into the first turn. Our excitement was short lived as, when Foxy turned in to the corner, an electrical fault caused the engine to cut out which resulted in the rear wheels locking up! This caused the car to half spin and by the time Foxy was able to get the car restarted and get back up to speed he had dropped from 1st to 4th!
Heat 2 and we went out with a car changed dramatically. We threw the lowest gear set we had into the rear to try and get the car to rev better and pull through the turns. Changes were also made in all areas of the suspension to try and approve both side bite and straight line speed. Leaving from grid 8 we knew we had some work to do to get to the front. 29e Glen Leech left from grid 5, Paul from grid 10, Brian from grid 9 and Scotty was at the other end of field in grid 3. It didn't take long for Scotty to get to the front with 2 of the slower cars starting in front of him. Foxy made reasonable progress through the field and moved into 2nd followed by Glen, Brian and 64a Grant Harris. It was pretty obvious to us that the changes that we made had gone no where near enough to fixing the problems from heat 1. Although Foxy had been able to make his way into 2nd we had no where near the pace needed to keep up with Scotty and Foxy was under pressure from Glen. As the race went on Scotty continued to open up his lead and Foxy very slowly opened up a cushion back to Glen. In the last straight away the 3nz of Paul Blakeley managed to find his way past the 64a car to finish 5th.
After 2 heats we had the top 5 cars all tied on the same points. 3nz and 19a had a 1st and a 5th, 6a and 11a had a 2nd and a 4th and 29e had two 3rds. It looked like our problem in the first turn in heat one was going to hurt us.
Heading into heat 3 it seemed obvious that the winner was going to come from either 19a, 6a or 3nz as they were all starting from the front of the grid. Scotty had another grid 3 start (with no one on grid 1). Brian was leaving from grid 2 and Paul from grid 4. Glen was off grid 10 and Foxy left for the 2nd race in a row from grid 8. Massive changes were made to the car while I set off running around to try and find some diff gears that would make the engine rev harder. We have never had to borrow gears before due to lack of revs and we still could not find the ones we really needed but we were able to find a set close from Team Scheffer (thanks guys) . We had now dropped 4 gear sets to what we normally would run. At the start Brian and Scotty were having a ding dong battle for the lead eventually won by Scotty and we were showing better pace than we had in the previous heats. This heat gave us a glimpse of what to expect from this engine when we get the gearing right and the car showed better speed through the turns. 3 or 4 laps in Foxy had been able to catch and pass the 3nz car of Paul Blakeley and was hauling in the 6a car of Brian. At about mid distance Foxy had been able to catch Brian and was all over his bumper. As Brian's car went off a bit in setup ours came on but not quite enough to execute a pass and that is the way they finished. 19a, 6a, 11a, 41a, 3nz.
Once the points were totaled we had a clear top 3 with 1 point difference between them all. 19a had 26 points, 6a had 25 points and 11a had 24 points (the first race incident in the first corner did come back to bite us).
Well done to Scotty who is showing good pace so far this year and seems to be finding a way to win when needed. He has now added the Auckland Champs title to the Taranaki title he won a few weeks back. Brian continues to show consistent results as does Paul. Rest assured Glen will learn from his first competitive North Island outing and with the car remaining in the North Island until after the NZ champs late next month, expect to see him around the traps. As for us we have a lot of work to do. The car has enormous potential and we need to find it quickly or we will struggle at the big events. It was a satisfactory opening night for us but it has highlighted that we need a hell of a lot more track time between now and the end of January. The team has changed their plans for the coming weeks and intends to run when ever possible. This means we will be trekking down to Rotorua for this Friday's club night and will likely mean we visit Stratford and Huntly in the coming weeks as Auckland closes shop until late January. We can't afford to sit on our bums.
Sorry we don't have any photos to show of the new car as yet but I did notice that Pallmall has posted some nice ones on the Macgors discussion board if you want to have a look, also some nice non race car pictures there as well!!
That's it for now as I need to go out shopping for new diff gears!
See you in Rotorua