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North Island Champs - Waikaraka Park - 19th Dec 2009

We set out to this meeting with high hopes of a good result. The final result was far from it but we were proud of the effort Foxy put in on a frustrating night.
20 cars fronted for the 2009/10 running of the North Island title. Cars in attendance were 1nz, 3nz, 4s, 4h, 5w, 6a, 6w, 7a, 8s, 10s, 11a, 21a, 29a, 36a, 55s, 56a, 64a, 77s, 78a and 121s. Track breakdown was Auckland 9, Stratford 8, Wellington 2 and Huntly 1.
Format was the Dirt Cup format of 2 heats (marble draw and reversed). Top 6 pole shuffle and then the 1 x 25 lap final trophy race (winner take all).

Foxy drew grid 8 for the first heat race. On the first attempted start 64a spun entering turn 3 for the first time. This caused a pile up which resulted in the 5w machine of Brian McPhee to smash heavily into the wall ending his night. It also resulted in flat left front tyres for both Foxy and Craig Ward in the 77s machine. The race was stopped with a red light. I instantly tried to find the pit referee to question what the official classification of the race was. Was it going to be a restart or a rerun? The terminology here is important. I got told it was abandoned and a complete rerun was ordered. As this in effect means that the first attempt to start the race was null and void I asked for the 3 minute bell to replace the front wheel. I was told no 3 minute bell due to rule R11-14-4 (vii). I said this does not apply because a rerun had been ordered not a restart. If a restart was ordered then I agree it would have applied.
R11-14-4 Starting
(vii) There is only one three minute bell allowed per race. These
3 minutes are before the green light or flag has been shown
at the first start of the race.
If the intention is for this rule to apply to reruns as well as restarts then the word “attempted” should be put into the wording in the rule between “first” and “start”. This would then read “…..green light or flag has been shown at the first attempted start of the race”
Our view was the race had not officially started due to their decision to abandon the first attempt and order a rerun. This meant that a 3 minutes bell should have been allowed.
The ref in the pits was adamant that no 3 minute bell was allowed so we started to put the gear away and Foxy gridded up for a start with a flat left front. While the cars were circulating the senior referee on the night that was on the infield decided that a 3 minute bell would be allowed. His reasoning was the same as mine. He came into the pits, told the pit referee his decision and we were given the green light to change the wheel. While we were doing so Craig Ward's crew did likewise and crews from other cars attended to matters on their cars as well.
Foxy did not exceed the 3 minute bell period and was ready to go in the allotted time. The race got away without further incident and Foxy drove a blinder to take the race win from the 3nz machine of Bunter who had started off the front row. There is little doubt it was the dominant car on the track.
On returning to the pits various drivers decided to protest the result as they disagreed with the 3 minute bell being awarded. At least one of the guys who protested had also received outside assistance in the 3 minute bell period. Foxy and Craig were called to a meeting with the officials where they were told that a mistake had been made and that the 3 minute bell should not have been awarded, because of this both would be excluded from the results. None of the other guys who received outside assistance in this race were excluded as the official word was “no one saw anything”. Foxy questioned how we could be excluded from the results when at the end of the day we only made the changes because they told us we were allowed to. He also told them that he would have raced with the flat left front and likely came home in a reasonable position so how could they take all the points of him? In short it was their decision to award the 3 minute bell not ours so how can we be penalised for their mistake? The answer was in effect “hard luck”.
Everyone will have their own opinion on if the 3 minute bell should have been awarded or not. This is now irrelevant. What is relevant is their decision to reverse their decision later. With Foxy in the car it is up to us in the pits to question the ref and ask the question. We have to abide by their decision. I honestly believe that the wording of the rule and the classification difference between a restart and a rerun means that you can't be refused a 3 minute bell in the situation at the weekend. If they wanted to avoid the issue and make it clear they should have ordered a restart.
Regardless of the above at the end of the day, right or wrong, the officials made the call to allow it. To then reverse that decision after the event is totally unacceptable in our opinion and by doing so they dramatically influenced the event.

Race 2 had us leaving from grid 13 and Foxy knew he needed good points to try and get himself a reasonable start in the final. We knew making the pole shuffle was impossible. Foxy was once again the dominant car on the track and he passed a lot of top cars including the 1nz machine of Jacko. Foxy got up as high as 4th and was challenging the 55s car of Paul Ward for 3rd when Paul's car cut out on him exiting turn 2, Foxy took evasive action but was too close and just caught him on the way thru, this resulted in Foxy doing a complete 360 degree spin and before he regained control of the car he had lost 4-5 places. Foxy clawed some of those places back in the few laps remaining but ran out of time to push on to the front.

With all the dramas on the night I hadn't had time to keep an eye on the points and when I finally did get time to check them I found that no official results had been posted anywhere. This meant I had no idea where we would be starting. When the grid came up for the final I was surprised to see we were down to leave on grid 16. This seemed to a fair way down even given we had been awarded no points for heat 1. What had me scratching my head was that 64a was down to start in front of us even though he had not finished either of the first 2 heats! Surely we must have had more points than him?? Anyway with the night we were having we let it go and hooked the car up as best we could for what we knew was going to be a big ask. It is fair to say we had not given up but we did realise that we would need a few cautions during the race to keep us in touch with the leaders. This never happened, Foxy made steady progress through the field while we sat in the pits praying for a caution. They never came until lap 24 of a 25 lap race! By then Foxy had moved into 6th from his grid 16 start but with only 1 lap to run and having lapped cars in the picture as well it was far too late.

In short a night to forget. We are proud of Foxy's effort on the night and regardless of the result we are confidant in the car we have. Foxy continues to set the benchmark in the North Island this season and we head away to the South Island knowing we have a real shot of challenging for the title. As for Saturday, I believe that as a bare minimum both Craig and Foxy should be given public apologies from SNZ for what conspired on the night, neither deserved to be shafted on the night and it leaves a bad taste. It is hard enough to win these things on the track let alone have to worry about dodgy calls by officials as well!
Congrats to the top 3 place getters on the night. Bunter had the car hooked up well all night and he proved to be the man to beat.
We wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, stay safe and see you at the Glen on the 2nd January.

Team Fox



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