NZ Grand Prix - Wellington 14th March 2009 plus
Wailkato Champs - Huntly 4th April 2009
One to go!
March 14th had us in Wellington for the NZGP. A pretty disappointing field of only 14 cars fronted for the event with only 1 South Island competitor making the trip. Half the field was made up of Stratford competitors with 3 locals and 3 Auckland cars making up the numbers.
Marble draw, reversed format was used for heat 1 and heat 2 with highest points starting off the front for the 20 lap feature race. Unfortunately sub standard track conditions in heat 1 resulted in giving an unfair advantage to the guys off the front rows in this heat as passing options were non existent in the race. Between heat 1 and heat 2 the grader was used to give the guys a surface more suitable to race on but by doing so all the race surface was removed out to the wall meaning that as the night went on the track offered nothing out wide. There is little doubt that this event was decided by the luck of the draw and not by driver ability. In saying that old Willy in the 10s machine had the old girl humming around as good as anyone and it was great to see him take the title, just would have preferred to see the event run on a surface that gave the crowd something more to watch than just follow the leader.
The NZGP remains as the only major modified event that Foxy hasn't won, time will tell if we will get another opportunity next season and beyond.
After Wellington, the stop start nature of the season had us sitting on our hands for the following 2 weeks before we headed down to Huntly on Saturday for the Waikato Champs. 15 cars fronted on Saturday which is one more than what contested the NZGP in Wellington!! Go figure!
Standard 3 race format was utilized with front, middle, back grid draws. The small crowd did little to add any fizz into the night's proceedings and I think it is fair to say that there were more people in the pits than in the stands. The track surface was packed down very hard, and with no classes present that would have ripped the track, we got a very slick race line with little drive off pole. It was going to be a “keep it tight or go backwards” type of motor racing surface. The racing itself was reasonably good but to be fair I think some dodgy decisions by the officials on the night tarnished the event a bit, even though we benefited in one of the wrong decisions!
Heat 1 had an incident in it when with about 4-5 laps to run an orange light necessitated a restart. The 3nz car was running 3rd behind Foxy and Brian in the 6a car. There is no doubt that Bunter jumped the start and passed Brian before they reached the starting line. The yellows should have come back on and Bunter should have been put back, or, the officials should have taken action after the race. On questioning the officials after the race Brian was told that Bunter had received a warning and told not to do it again. Sorry guys this was a championship race and if Bunter had been deemed to jump the start he should have been relegated… this was not a club-night.
Heat 2 was uneventful but heat 3 was mind blowing! The first 2 heats of the championship were 15 lap races, heat 3 was reduced to 9 laps due to running out of time! How can you do this in a championship?? The drivers were not even advised!
This race was our rear start for the night and luckily Foxy was able to move into 2nd pretty quickly but really to alter the amount of laps in a championship heat is not on. The one bit of luck, highlighted above, that we did have is that just after Foxy had passed Brian for 2nd there was a tangle in turn 3. This forced the yellows on and a restart. Brian should have been placed back in front of Foxy as you have too go back a lap. This wasn't done and although we benefited from the decision the fact is that the decision to leave the running order as it was, was incorrect.
To make things fair for all parties rules need to be followed at all championship meetings, they were not on Saturday. I could sit here and say nothing because we won the event but that would be hypercritical of me. If you are going to comment about these things when they go against you, you need too also comment on them when they benefit you. Would it have made a difference to the final placings if the event had run for the full 15 laps and Foxy had been put back behind Brian?....maybe. We will never know.
Good luck to the North Island boys trucking down to Christchurch for this Easter weekend, we hope the weather plays its part and you keep the mainlanders honest! Team Fox will be at Rotorua on Easter Sunday for the Easter Champs. This will be our last meeting of the season after which we will sit back and see what happens at club level etc as this may dictate what our plans are for next season.
See ya in Vegas!