Waikaraka Park - Club Night - 13th February 2010
Racing has been somewhat spasmodic since returning from the South Island 5 weeks ago. Saturday night had us back at Waikaraka for only our second meeting in that timeframe.
Racing for the night was low key and as a club night there was no prizemoney up for offer. 11 mods fronted but the 24h car of Bruce Watt had problems early on so this was reduced by one for most of the night.
Earlier on in the week we were asked if we would be happy enough to start from the rear all night in a handicap format. The plan was to spread the field out a bit and give some of the slower guys a bit of time to get themselves sorted before the faster guys caught up. This worked for all but the last race! We agreed without knowing that double points were on offer for the seasons point's chase. If we had realised this before hand we likely would not have agreed. As the grids had already been finalised we decided just to say nothing and get on with it.
Since our last run at the park, the club has added some more material to the track and this has resulted in a slightly better race surface with a tad more drive available. It does make the first heat a bit tricky though until a racing line is formed.
Heat 1 and some of the drivers obviously couldn't get their heads around the handicap starting positions. What was supposed to happen is that there was supposed to be gaps left between certain groups of cars to spread them well out, some guys can't read and this resulted in the field being closed up tighter than it should have been. Luckily the field got going cleanly and Wadey in the 29a machine shot out to an early lead followed by the 78a mod of Ray Chatfield. Paul in the 56a Pacific Urethanes machine made quick work from his mid field start to close in on these 2 by about mid distance. He was quickly followed by his partner in crime Brian Jesen in the 6a mod. Foxy was making slow work from the back but, once he had cleared the chasing bunch, he quickly got on the tail of the leaders just as Paul was clearing Wadey for the lead and Brian was passing Chatty for 3rd. On the last lap Brian was able to pass Wadey for 2nd but Foxy ran out of laps to do likewise. Finishing order was 56a, 6a, 29a, 1nz, 78a.
Heat 2 had us off the rear again. This time Brian got the breaks at the start and, while he was passing the 78a mod for the lead, Foxy was stuck in behind a dueling 29a and 56a. This caused these guys to lose ground on the leaders. After a lap or two Foxy decided to go to the highline and he made a pass on the 56a car exiting turn 3. He then got under the 29a machine coming off turn 2 and started to chase down Ray in 2nd. Brian at this stage held near on a half lap lead. Foxy quickly closed in on Ray and with about 2 laps left he passed him for 2nd. Luckily for us there was then a yellow light incident and this closed the field up for the run home. On the restart Foxy drove straight to the outside and coming off turn 2 he and Brian were side by side. They stayed this way down the back straight and thru turns 3 and 4. Foxy then got his nose in front and held on for the win. He was followed home by 6a, 56a, 78a and 29a.
Heat 3 had same starting positions. Foxy gave the leaders a half lap lead on this one to start and Wadey took early advantage by jumping out to a good lead. By the end of the 2nd lap Foxy had caught the back markers and he started to work his way thru the pack. With a handful of laps left a yellow was thrown for a spun 21a and Foxy was running 3rd behind 64a and 29a. On the restart Foxy passed the 29a mod and was on the bumper of Grant Harris in the 64a machine. This 64a mod can be one very wide car and Foxy was trying high and low to make a pass. Foxy eventually made a great outside pass off turn 2 on the last lap but it was short lived when Grant did a slide job maneuver into turn 3 that the stockcar boys would be proud off, bouncing Foxy off the race line and giving him the run to the line. Not something we like to see in the mods but luckily no damage resulted. As it was a club night we let it go. Result was 64a, 1nz, 29a, 21a and 56a.
Heat 4 was the feature for the night and this race ended up being the messiest of the night. Brian in the 6a mod sat this one out so only 9 cars took the starting gun. At the first attempt 64a and 21a came together spinning 21a around. Foxy had no where to go and collected 21a doing some front end damage. He was able to continue so joined up for the restart. On the 2nd attempt 56a and 78a came together to cause another yellow. We were now down to 6 cars! On this restart Foxy passed the 64a and started to chase the leaders. Another yellow light for the 36a mod of Phil Crumpe with broken suspension then bought us down to 5 cars. Only 2 race laps had been run!! On this restart Paul made a good pass on the 29a car for the lead while Foxy got caught up behind him. This enabled Paul to open up a bit of a lead which quickly disappeared once Foxy had found his way past Wadey. Eventually Foxy found an inside run on Paul coming off turn 2 and they went side by side for the next ½ a lap or so until Foxy got his nose in front entering turn 1. This was short-lived as Foxy spun mid turn and Paul had no where to go, collecting him. At the time we though this was strange as Foxy does not spin out very often unless there is an underlying reason. The front end damage sustained at the start of the race explained the handling issues for us on his return to the pits. Foxy joined the rear of the field as the cause of the yellows and tried again (not realising he had damage). He quickly passed all 3 cars again and was once again on Paul's bumper until another half spin made him realise he had a few issues. He returned to the track at the back of the field and drove the car a lot slower to try to bring it home for some points. Even with the damage he was still able to make his way into 3rd by race end. Grant Harris ended up being the eventual race winner when Paul ran out of gas on the last lap! He was able to roll over the finish line to hold 2nd. An eventful race for one with nothing on it!
So there we have it, 4 races on the night and a 1st, 2nd, 3rd and a 4th from rear of the field starts. I am sure the crowd enjoyed the racing as the quicker guys had to work for it but to be honest if we are asked to accommodate this format again the answer will be no. We sustained more damage in this one night than we have all season, all for no reward. If we had to do this every week we would go broke as we did roughly $1000 worth of damage on the night trying to get through the field where as others didn't have to take the risks from their starting positions.
Our next meeting is the big one at home this year, the CSL Containers Super Dirt Cup. We have about 28 cars entered for this event and it will be a doozy! We have a week off to get the car ready for the 27th and we will need the time to fix the damage sustained last week. Hopefully the crowd will support this meeting even though we are going head to head with qualifying for the NZ Superstock champs. We hope that good, hard mod and stockcar racing will win out over normally tame qualifying racing on the night and that people will realise they can support both meetings by doing Waikaraka on the Saturday and Kihikihi on the Sunday. What a weekend of racing action that will be!
See you at the track