Racing Gods get final say!
That is all I can come up with! After 3 aborted attempts to run the Dirt Cup, things were looking good for attempt number 4 at the weekend when we finally got bright sunny skies.
After all the delays and dramas we finally started with exactly 20 mods. Cars to front were: 1nz, 3nz, 4s, 5s, 6a, 7a, 12s, 19a, 21a, 22a, 25a, 29a, 33a, 36a, 55s, 56a, 64a, 67s, 78a and 226s. A couple of late withdrawals on race day and the late addition of 19a Scotty Lane led to a slight in-balance in the groups with 4 of the top 6 seeds lumped into group 2 and only 2 in group 1. An easy fix took precedent over a complete re-do of the groups so it made the most sense at the time.
Group 1 had 1nz, 4s, 5s, 6a, 12s, 22a, 25a, 33a, 36a and 64a. Mark Dixon in the 4s machine won this group with a 1st and 2nd placing (19 points). Jacko in 1nz finished 2nd with a 1st and a 3rd ( 18 points) followed by 6a Brian Jesen with a 3rd and a 4th (15 points). These 3 qualified for the pole shuffle.
Group 2 was far more even with 3nz, 7a, 19a, 21a, 29a, 55s, 56a, 67s and 226s. Heat 1 for these guys was hardly underway when a massive crash resulted in Wadey in the 29a machine and Bunter in 67s both rolling out of contention. I think the video footage on Macgors is self-explanatory and no other comment is needed. This incident badly affected us as well with Foxy getting significant damage when clipping Bunter while he was rolling. Luckily we were able to continue, all be it with damage that hampered the cars handling. Our 4th place finish left us a bit shy of where we wanted to be by race end. Heat 2 was far easier with an undamaged car and Foxy won easily from the front, setting the fastest time of the night across either group along the way. We felt back on track. The poor result in heat 1 cost us winning this group outright but our points were still enough to tie with Scotty in 19a and Paul Ward in 55s as group winners. 3nz 4th and 1st (17 points), 19a 1st and 4th (17 points), 55s 2nd and 3rd (17 points). A marble draw was required to ascertain the pole shuffle order for these 3 guys. Scotty drew 3 and Paul drew 5. This left us with 4.
First shuffle was 55s vs 6a. 55s had lane choice and picked grid 2. On the start 55s closed down on 6a in effect shutting the door. 55s wins.
Shuffle 2. 55s vs 3nz. Foxy had lane choice and picks 2. 55s jumps start collecting Foxys left front at the same time. Lights stay green! Foxy gives chase and although obviously faster is unable to make a pass due to 55's “defensive” driving. 55s wins (on the track).
Shuffle 3. 55s vs 19a. Scotty has lane choice and picks 2. 55s jumps start again, even worse than previous shuffle. Scotty stops on track. Lights again stay green! 55s comes round to lap Scotty who then decides to give chase and launch an audacious (and successful) slide job on 55s entering pit bend to un-lap himself. Probably a little aggressive but given the lack of action by the referees, totally understandable. 55 wins (on the track).
Shuffle 4. 55s vs 1nz. Jacko picks 2. 55s goes for 3 from 3 with jump start but Jacko comes back at him wheels rubbing on the outside. After a fair amount of contact Jacko gets clear to pull away and win. Lights go out on last lap of runoff and 55s spins out.
Shuffle 5. Doesn't happen, no lights!!
On entering the pits after shuffle 55s called to ref's box and relegated for jumped starts.
Dirt Cup unable to run due to lights.
There we have it folks a great night of intense racing with plenty of drama, but cut short. The meeting was plugging away nicely and although there was a lot to get though we were on target to be done and dusted by 10:30 prior to the lights packing up. Mercury Energy need a rocket as this is the 2nd time this season the Park has lost lights. Imagine if this happens in a few months time across town at a certain rugby game!! Someone would get lynched! I am half inclined to sue them for out of pocket expenses!
We decided on the night to pay out the entire prizepool. The drivers have made the effort 4 times now this season to support this event and given there are no more dates available to run we have called the event. There will be no Dirt Cup Champion this season. Travelmoney will be paid as agreed. Prizemoney on the heats will be paid as outlined and agreed and the $7000.00 that was earmarked for 1st, 2nd and 3rd will be pooled and paid out evenly to the 6 guys who made the shuffle. It is not the driver's fault we didn't get to run and even though we could have saved the $7000 due to the race not being run, I think this is the least we can do.
I would like to thank the club and the drivers for their perseverance, everyone is pretty gutted we couldn't get this done but it looks like it just wasn't meant to be this season.
Next season I need to give some thought to when we run this event. We had planned for Auckland Anniversary weekend but Huntly have since scheduled the NZ Superstock champs for this weekend. It is pointless running the Dirt Cup against this meeting.
I will also give some thought to the pole shuffle format. Saturday's situation was unsatisfactory. Although the car was relegated after the fact for jumping the starts it wasn't fair for the drivers who lost those shuffles as they were unable to continue on in the shuffle process. From now on I will make sure that if someone jumps, then the yellows are thrown and we go again. If the culprit jumps again they will be disqualified and the other car will progress. No ifs' buts or maybes!
So that's it folks, no name on the trophy this season. You can't say we haven't tried!!
This week we are at Waikaraka's last meeting of the season for the King of the Park. The Olly Browne Memorial that was also unable to be run on Saturday and will also happen this weekend. Weather and lights permitting!!
Good luck to the North Island boys heading down to Blenheim for the NZGP this weekend. Bring it back up North with you!
See you at the track!