Sun and Fun!
We finally got a planned meeting in!! Yippee!!
Saturday had Team Fox down at Stratty for the 3rd running of the King of the Mountain Modified title. Foxy won the inaugural title back in the 2008/09 season and Jacko took out last seasons 2009/10 rendition.
One of the best fields of the season was on hand to contest this one with 19 cars fronting on a beautiful day in the Naki. After having one rain out down there already this season, we were glad the weather “experts” got it wrong and we got a beautiful night for racing.
5 Auckland cars were joined by 4 Wellington mods as visitors, throw in the 10 locals and you have a pretty classy field. Cars in attendance were 1nz, 3nz, 4s, 5s, 5w, 8s, 9w, 12s, 15w, 19a, 22s, 25a, 36a, 55s, 57w, 64a, 67s, 72s and 226s. Format was the standard SNZ championship deal of 3 heats, front/middle/back, marbledraw heat 1. Contrary to the scary stories we had heard leading up to the event, the track looked in pretty good shape. You could see from the start that it was going to dry out quickly and the old story of dust may be an issue. It performed as expected.
Heat 1 had Foxy leaving from grid 15. Jacko in the 1nz machine had the prime starting spot of grid 1. All the other leading contenders were spread through out the field. Jacko got away at the start as expected and with the amount of cars on the track he was into lapping traffic by lap 3! Lap 4 and we had the first stoppage due to Bunter in the 67s mod parked nose first into the pit gate. Didn't see what happened so will not comment. Foxy had made steady progress and as they reformed for the restart he was already up to about 10th spot. Off we went again without any more real incidents and by race end Foxy had moved into a very respectable 4th place finish. He was also pressuring the 3rd place finisher as the chequered flew. To come home in the top 4 from our rear start really threw down the gauntlet to the rest. Race order: 1nz (grid 1), 64a (grid 2), 5w (grid 4?), 3nz (grid 15).
Heat 2 and we off grid 6. This time Dicko in the 4s machine was off the front row so the plan was to try and get up to 2nd as quickly as possible and see if an opportunity to push for the win would eventuate without taking any unnecessary risks. Jacko was down to leave from grid 10 with the other two guys who finished in front of us in race one running from mid pack. As expected, Dicko shot out to the lead. After a handful of laps Foxy had managed to pass some good cars and move into 2nd place. Jacko was also making moves back in the pack. Dicko never put a foot wrong and was able to finish a good 3-4 car lengths in front of Foxy by race end. 4s, 3nz, 55s, 1nz.
Points after 2 heats were pretty close. Jacko in the 1nz mod led with 35 points, Foxy was one back on 34, Dicko in the 4s mod and 64a Grant Harris were another 2 back, tied for 3rd with 32 points. 55s Paul Ward rounded out the top 5 with 31 points. It was obvious, barring incidents, that the winner would come from this group. Paul Ward had the best grid start of the group leaving from grid 3. Next would be Foxy from grid 7. The remaining 3 would have the work to do as all were leaving from the rear (1nz from 18, 4s from 17 and 64a from 16). Our plan was simple, stay in touch with 55s and ahead of Jacko. The race started calmly enough with 72s Merv Julian shooting out to the lead from his front row start. Paul quickly moved into 2nd place while Foxy was fighting with both 8s Sean Rice and 19a Scotty Lane for 5th, 6th and 7th places. Jacko had started to make some moves back in the pack but a coming together about a third of the way into the race caused a massive pileup involving 5-6 cars. Jacko was right in the middle of it with the 12s car of Jason Kalin sitting on his bonnet. It looked for all money that Jacko would have sustained damage that would put him out of the race but when your luck is in, it is in and once the 12s car was moved, Jacko calmly started back up and drove off. What was even luckier was that a large number of the cars that were involved in the incident were unable to restart and once they all started to re-grid for the restart, Jacko found himself only 1 place back from Foxy. I am pretty sure Foxy knew that this was the situation because on the restart he was more aggressive and he pulled off some good passes to move into 3rd, just behind a dueling 72s and 55s. Paul finally found a way past Merv for the lead but Foxy knew he was running 3rd on the track which was enough for the title. For the rest of the race he ran on Merv's bumper, ready to take the opportunity for a pass if it presented itself but not prepared to risk an aggressive move. Luckily this plan worked with Foxy doing enough to take the title. Race finish: 55s, 72s, 3nz, 4s, 1nz.
In the final points wash-up Foxy won with 51 points and a runoff was needed to separate the 1nz machine and the 55s mod. Jacko won the cointoss and chose grid 2. Jacko won the start and the race was over with Paul sticking with Jacko the whole way but never in a position to mount a challenge. Dicko in the 4s machine finished 4th.
Jacko and Foxy seem to be swapping trophies at the moment and there is very little between them when it comes to track speed. Luck is on both their sides it seems while Dicko, Bunter and Paul Ward are all showing good pace but having no luck. Things tend to even out in this area so who knows what will happen the next time all these guys meet. It won't take long to find out with the guys all due to meet each other again in the weeks ahead for some pretty important titles.
Thanks to the Stratty club for putting on a great meeting and also a big thanks to the other Auckland guys who made the trek down to support our Stratty mates. It was good to see we were not the only one making the effort again, so to 25a Paul Steward, 36a Phil Crumpe, 19a Scotty Lane and 64a Grant Harris, good on you guys, I know they appreciated it.
The next meeting for Team Fox is this weekend, 19th February, back at Waikaraka for a club night.
See you there