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Easter Champs
Rotorua's Paradise Valley Raceway - April 2009

That's all folks!

Team Fox's 2009 season came to an end on Sunday night at Rotorua's Paradise Valley Raceway. As always the Rotorua club put on a fantastic night of racing too end the season in style. We would like to thank Sonja and her team for their continued efforts for the sport and we have enjoyed our ventures down there all year.

13 cars fronted for the modified Easter champs. As well as an individual title up for grabs over 3 heats, there was a best pair's title as well. Drivers were paired together and all their points from the 3 heats were combined. Now, with 13 being an odd number, we ended up being awarded two partners which was a bit strange. Whoever scored the most points out of 7a and 22r would be the one paired with Foxy's points. Not sure what would have happened if both had scored more points than us!

The 13 cars in attendance were 4s, 6a, 7a, 8h, 10s, 11a, 17r, 18r, 22r, 29a, 41a, 64a and 78h. Pairs were 4s and 29a, 6a and 64a, 10s and 8h, 11a and 7a/22r, 41a and 17r and 18r and 78h.

Heat 1 had us leaving from grid 10. For some reason 22r had to leave from the rear for all the 3 heats. Dicko in the 4s machine left from 7, Willy in the 10s machine left from 5. Brian in the 6a machine from 12 and 18r Dennis Hanson from grid 4. An early incident had the yellows on with the 8h mod of Dean Martin sitting in the wall with suspension damage. Restart order was 18r, 78h (left from grid 2), 10s, 4s, 41a, 11a and 6a. The remainder of the race was pretty much follow the leader. Willy did all he could to try and get a pass on the 78h mod but all that did was leave the door open for Dicko in the 4s machine to get under him and relegate Willy to 4th. Foxy had a few looks at getting under Hayden in the 41a car but with Hayden being comfortable with his position, and driving conservatively, the opportunities to attempt a pass never eventuated. Brian was stuck behind us in the same position. No one was going to be able to drive around the outside and make it stick. Finish order was 18r, 78h, 4s, 10s, 41a, 11a, 6a, 22r and 17r.

Heat 2 and we were leaving from grid 4. Of the guys who had finished in front of us in heat 1 Dicko had the best starting position of grid 1. 18r left from grid 10. 78h from 8. 10s from 11 and 41a from 12. Brian in the 6a car left from 6. The 8h car was out for the night so the guys from grid 7 back got the advantage of one less guy to pass. At the first attempt to start the race the 17r car of Grant Swindlehurst (grid 3) caused us a few anxious moments when he got a tad messy, held us up and eventually spun out to force a restart. On the restart and with 29a Mark Wade off 2, Foxy had to try and split the gap between him and the 17r car to get on Dicko's bumper. They all got away clean and Foxy was successful in getting on the back of Dicko leaving turn 2. Brian took advantage of Foxy making the gap and followed him thru to run 3rd. Dicko's car was not quite right for the first few laps and he was leaving the opportunity of an inside run, unfortunately Foxy could not quite get the run under him that he needed with Dicko being able to do just enough to come down on him and close the door. After about 3-4 attempts over the first few laps the track came to Dicko's car setup and the opportunities stopped, from then on in it was follow the leader for the first 3 cars too the finish line. Finish order 4s, 11a, 6a, 18r, 10s, 78h, 22r, 64a.

Points after heat 2 were 4s on 38. 18r on 37. 11a and 78h on 34. 10s on 33 and 6a on 32. All the others were out of contention for the podium. 6s was off grid 1, 4s off grid 11, 18r off grid 6, 11a off grid 5. 10s off grid 4 and 78h off grid 10. 41a was off 2 and 7a off 3, right in front of us.
At the start it was all on. 7a drifted off pole enough for Foxy to put his nose down the inside. Once Ron got it together he tried to come back down and close the door and this forced Foxy on to the grass (it was either do this or smash into him). Heading into the turn Foxy was running 4th behind Willy in the 10s car. Once again Willy mounted all sorts of pressure on the 41a car but all this did was enable Foxy to get under him and take 3rd. While this was going on Brian was pulling away in the lead. Foxy tried to challenge Hayden looking for an inside opportunity but with only ½ gaps appearing he was unable to execute a pass. The closest he got was at about ½ distance when he got under him off turn 2 but Hayden came back down forcing Foxy onto the concrete pole line. This resulted in an enormous wheel stand which caused Foxy to lose a bit of form entering turn 3, this in turn stuffed Willy up who came into the turn hotter than us and hit Foxys rear bumper, spinning him out. This forced on the yellows. At this stage the running order would have seen a runoff for 1st and 2nd between 4s and 18r as Dennis was in front of Dicko. A runoff would also be required for 3rd between Brian and Foxy.
On the restart Foxy threw all he had at Hayden for the crucial pass but to no avail. Dicko was able to make a pass on Dennis and, although there was some noise about it being done on the grass, I never witnessed it so can't comment. To be fair there were a number of passes done through out the night where guys ran their wheels up over the curb on turn 2 (Foxy included). It is difficult when guys leave a big enough gap underneath to execute a pass through the turn but then come back down on you off the turn. Should the guy underneath get out of it or should the guy on the outside be expected to hold his line? A ref once told me that if there is a big enough gap to get under someone in the turn then there should be enough room to be under them coming off the turn. It is up to the outside car to hold their line and not cut back down. Seems to me that the officials took the stance on Sunday that if a guy was underneath clean and got driven on to the pole line off the turn then they would not be penalised, fair enough I suppose.
Finish order. 6a, 41a, 11a, 4s, 18r, 78h and 22r.

The result of the above is that Dicko took out the individual Easter Champs title with 55 points. Dennis Hanson in the 18r had a great night and took 2nd on 53 points. Both these guys took full advantage of the little bits of luck that came their way during the night and deserved their placings. Foxy and Brian were tied for 3rd and a run off would be needed to decide the 3rd place position after the Ginge Heywood memorial race.

The Ginge Heywood race is always the last mod race at Easter and the grid is decided by the finishing positions from the Easter Champs with highest points leaving from the rear. As the runoff had not happened to decide 3rd in the Champs a coin toss decided starting positions for Brian and Foxy. Brian won the toss and chose to start from the outside of the second to last row meaning Foxy had to start from the inside. We have never won this race as the chance of a guy starting near the back, as we normally do in these, and getting all the way to the lead is pretty remote. Sunday we got within a whisker of doing it but couldn't quite get there. In this race you have to get by the first of the so called “faster cars” to clear the pack and give chase to the guys in front, if you are not then you have no show. Foxy got a great start driving right through the middle of the pack, the casualty of this dicing it up was the 6a machine of Brian Jesen who suffered front end damage. The officials did the right thing taking Brian straight off the track so he could do repairs in time to contest the runoff against Foxy at the end of the night. On the restart Willy was driving like a demon in trying to execute a pass on the 64a machine of Grant Harris. Grant has the gear and is learning quickly so he was not making it easy for Willy. Although his lines were somewhat erratic he managed to frustrate Willy by keeping him out. We learned last year when trying to pass Willy that the outside of turn 3 is no place to try and make a pass and, unfortunately for Willy, he found out the same thing on Sunday when he collected Grant and speared off into the wall, effectively writing off the entire car. I have no doubt Willy will be back but I think that the old girl may have finally done its last race…. We will see.
We were now at about ½ distance and with Foxy now on Grant's bumper we thought maybe it was our turn to take this coveted trophy home. The last 8 laps were frenetic; Foxy was not interested in trying to make an outside pass as it would have been suicide. Grant was leaving space up the inside but he had the habit of closing back down coming off the turns. Foxy got under him a few times but had to get back out of it or there is no doubt that both guys would have come off on the hook. Common sense prevailed for Foxy and he bought the car home in one piece (so we still had a car to compete in the runoff with) in 2nd place behind Grant. 22r Glen Lloyd rounded out the top 3.

The runoff for 3rd was our last spin for the night. Foxy won the toss and although we discussed the pros and cons of choosing grid 1 we decided on grid 2. This was going to be won on the drag race to the first turn as there was no way that a guy was going to get passed if he came off turn 2 first. The start was clean and fair and the guys powered into turn 1 with Foxy having his nose in front. Leaving turn 2 Foxy was clear and he just drove smooth and tight so Brian was not gifted any opportunities. Brian tried a few times going into the turn hot to try and sneak underneath but all this did was hurt him on corner speed and by the end of the race Foxy had a clear 4-5 car lengths gap.

All in all an enjoyable night and we bought the car home with the only scars being slightly bent knurf bars from the aggressive start of the Ginge Heywood race. Unlike last year we have benefited from pretty much a damage free run this season with the same front end, knurf bars and bumper on the car since night 1. Last year we ran out of wings and all other spares so to have enjoyed a damage free run and this has made life a lot easier!

Congrats to Dicko, Dennis and Grant on their success over the weekend and we look forward to what next season may bring. I will endeavor to do a season wrap over the next few weeks and hopefully update on what Team Fox's plans are for 2010… watch this space.

Team Fox



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