Rain and Pain!
Quick update folks.
Team Fox headed to Rotorua on December 27th to get ready for the BOP Mod champs on the 28th. We thought we would go down a day in advance to take in the qualifying of the NZ Superstocks as a treat for the crew. This ended up being an expensive treat as the weather dictated that the whole event was delayed by 2 days. This equated to 4 days of accommodation instead of the planned 2. It also meant we had to move motels as the place we had booked for the original dates was booked for the revised dates.
Playing support to the Superstocks always meant we were going to get a track tightly packed and slick and that was what we got when racing finally got underway on the 30th December. Unfortunately the delays meant that only 11 of the original 16 cars expected to show took the starting line. Rainouts can play havoc with numbers and cannot be helped. I am not sure what it was but maybe a bit of cabin fever kicked in because straight from the start of the first race there was banging and crashing across the field, just finishing was going to be a victory! Foxy drew grid 7 for heat 1 and after a bit of bash and crash at the start with the 4s machine of Mark Dixon (where we lost the back of our body) we slowly took advantage of others ducking and diving to move into 2nd. It was about now that we had a caution and the hope was that Foxy may be able to pressure the 19a machine of Scotty Lane for the win at the restart. This hope was short-lived as right from the restart the brakes locked on and stayed on until the end of the race, it was painful to watch as lap after lap the car came past revving its nuts off but not really going any where. It was obvious we had a problem! On returning to the pits the problem was traced to a faulty brake residual valve we run on the car. We were luckily that Foxy was able to hold his position and come home 2nd.
Heat 2 and we were off grid 2. Foxy duly won the start and looked comfortable in the lead, posting the fastest lap of the night in the progress. All was looking to be going to plan when at about ½ distance Foxy pulled to the infield with what he described as a knocking noise from the driveline. Once back in the pits the problem was identified as a diff issue and after inspection back in Auckland we discovered a flogged out crown wheel and pinion. Night over for 1nz while looking good to defend our title. Congrats to 19a Scott Lane who took out the BOP Champs and 6a Brian Jesen for coming home 2nd and 67s Bunter Pierce taking 3rd.
Once we returned to Auckland we had 2 days to repair the body, repair the brakes and fix the diff. Trying to get ours fixed in time to head to Wellington was not going to work so we want to thank Mal Hills for the use of his spare diff. This enabled us to meet our obligations to Wellington and make the starting line for the NI title.
A disappointing field of 13 cars fronted for the NI title on the 3rd January in Wellington. We were the only Auckland car present and we joined 7 Stratty cars and 5 locals. Cars in attendance were 1nz, 2nz, 4s, 5w, 6w, 8w, 8s, 9w, 15w, 55s, 67s, 71s, 72s.
With so few entries a change in format was agreed with the event run using the standard front/middle/back championship format. Foxy had his usual luck drawing grid 12 for heat 1. Unlike Rotorua a few days earlier the racing in Wellington was hard and fast without any real dramas in any of the heats. With all fast cars on display passing points were at a premium. It was interesting watching the lines taken by the guys and although the track was slick, it did have 2 distinct lines. The Gordge and Lovelady machines on display worked the low line very well while Foxy and Bunter were working the high line out by the wall extremely well.
Dicko in the 4s machine got a great start in the 1st heat and was quickly up to 2nd from his grid 8 start. Foxy also moved up 6 places in this race coming home 6th from grid 12. These two were the biggest movers in this heat. Starting directly behind Bunter in the first 2 races didn't do us any favors as Bunter was running the high line as well. This meant that out progress was hampered by having to wait for Bunter to pass the cars on the low line before we could move through. Our car did not work down low so we had to bide our time and wait for some clear track. 6w Phil Patterson took out heat 1 from his front row start followed by 4s, 71s, 5w, 67s and 1nz.
Heat 2 had 4s leaving from grid 2, Bunter from 4, 2nz Stuart Rose from 3 and Foxy from 6. Dicko flew out to the lead and it wasn't long before Bunter moved into 2nd after passing Rosie. Foxy was up to 4th. Dicko half spun with a handful of laps still to run and this allowed Bunter, Rosie and Foxy thru. Dicko was able to re-gather and maintain 4th and this is how they finished. 67s, 2nz, 1nz, 4s, 71s,
Heading into the last heat Bunter and Dicko were tied on 22 points each. Jacko was 2 back with 20 and Foxy was next best with 19, Up to now all 3 of the guys in front of us on points had started in front of us in the first 2 races. This was the only race we would start in front of them and we had work to do. We were down to leave from grid 3 and we had Jacko on the outside of us on 4. Bunter and Dicko were leaving from the rear. The plan was to try and get in front of Jacko at the start and then try and pass the 55s and 72s machines to put cars in between us. The plan half worked with Foxy getting the better of Jacko at the start, the problem was that both the 55s and 72s machines were showing good pace and we really never got anywhere near challenging them. By race end we had a length of the straight away lead over Jacko but still sitting in 3rd. Back in the pack Dicko had got the better of Bunter and had been able to make his way late into 5th which was enough for the title. Heat 3 result. 72s, 55s, 1nz, 71s, 4s.
In the final wash-up Dicko finished on 31 points. Jacko and Foxy ended up with 30 points and Bunter 1 back on 29 points. This meant 2nd and 3rd would be decided by runoff. Foxy called correctly at the toss and choose a grid 2 start. The runoff was clean and got away first time. Both guys entered turn 1 side by side but coming off 2 Foxy got the drive on the outside and pulled in front. Jacko threw everything at Foxy for the 1st lap but this cost him some track speed and Foxy steadily increased his lead to the end.
Team Fox went away happy on the night, to start behind the rest of the top 4 in 2 out of 3 races and come out 2nd on the night, only 1 point back from the winner, was a great result. We learned a few more things about the car and it finally showed what we are looking for on a slick track. Congrats to Dicko, Jacko and Bunter for some great racing. We all better look out for the sly old dog in the 72s machine in the coming weeks!
We are looking forward to the big doubleheader coming up in Auckland in the next few weeks with a level of quiet confidence. The last 2 meetings have shown that the NZ title and the Dirt Cup are anyone's this year with all the top guns showing great pace. Throw in the 3nz and 871c mods that are showing great form down south and you have no fewer than 10 real challengers for this years events.
Next meeting for us is our final shakedown before the NZ's at Waikaraka this Saturday night (weather permitting!)
See you at the track