What a complete stuff up the weather has made of our plans for 2 great modified meetings. Rain, rain and more rain has meant that only the NZ title got away with the Dirt Cup being left high and dry!!
After the rainouts of the previous weekend we still had a plan to get both meetings in but that went all pear-shaped with even more rain turning the park into more of a pond on Saturday morning. With the NZ title needing to take precedent, the decision had to be made to run the one night NZ champs on the Sunday and postpone the Dirt Cup until a later date. The frustration this caused to all parties from the club to the competitors is immense and left the whole weekend feeling a bit flat.
Sunday started out cloudy but luckily without moisture so after 3 aborted attempts it was 4th time lucky to get underway for the CSL Containers NZ Modified Champs. 2nz Stuart Rose had to pull the pin after Saturday's washout and he was extremely disappointed about not being able to try to defend his 2nz crown. Work has to be done to pay the bills so that is the way it has to be. This left us with 26 cars split into two groups for the points races. On paper the groups looked pretty even with maybe group 2 looking slightly more difficult with 6 seeded drivers to the 5 seeded drivers in group 1. The groups got a little lopsided in numbers and quality when, after the hot laps, group 1 lost the 18a car of Brian Campbell and the 6a car of Brian Jesen. There is no doubt that BJ would have been one of the top seeds in the group so this gave this group an advantage. Things couldn't be changed as marble draws etc had been done so it would just have to be left as it was.
As you can expect after the amount of rain that fell in the previous 24-48 hours, the track was not 100%. The poleline early on was really the only place you could run with the outside being so rough. As the night went on the work on the track paid benefits and the outside became useable. This situation also benefited the guys who had front grid starts in heat 1 of both groups as the outside was a no go zone. Considering the rough track there were not many dramas in any of the heat races and although there was a muck up with grids for heat 2, things progressed pretty well. Foxy did his normal crappy job of pulling marbles and drew grid 9 in heat 1. This left us with grid 3 in heat 2 and then grid 9 again in the last. Just what we needed, 3 inside starts! It was no surprise to see Foxy lose places initially in all 3 race starts as he got boxed in while guys on the outside had options. In most cases he spent the majority of the heats re passing cars that passed him at the start of each heat! In saying that we still made progress from both of our grid 9 starts to finish 5th in heat one and 4th in heat 3. In between we had to settle for 4th from our heat 3 start when Luke in the 871c machine got the better of us from his grid 4 start. Our results had us tied for 3rd in our group. A marbledraw sorted out the ties and had us leaving from grid 6 for the final 20 lapper.
We were happy with the car and now that the outside was useable, albeit not with out risk as Scotty unfortunately found, we felt we had a shot at it. Passing guys leaving from 1 thru to 5 wasn't going to be easy and we set the car up so that Foxy could run the highline. After a lap one yellow the race got underway with Jacko shooting out to the front from grid 1 followed closely by Glen Leech in the 129c machine. Mark Dixon comfortable sat in 3rd from his grid 3 start while Brandon Parkinson in the 5gm mod had Foxy and Bunter all over him fighting for 4th. This was one hell of a battle with Foxy committed to the highline and being held up by the 5gm who was fast on the straights but really struggling with lack of side bite off the turns. This resulted in Brandon being very sideways off the turns taking up the whole track. After about 4-5 laps Foxy was able to find a way around the outside only for the yellows to be activated meaning we had to go back behind him again for the restart. Laps were running down and this was really frustrating to watch! Once the race went green it was all on again with Foxy still trying to find a way past, once again it took more laps than what was ideal but finally Foxy got enough of the car past on the highline thru cemetery bend that when Brandon washed out his right rear hit our bumper with the impact breaking his hub. Purely a racing incident but never a nice way to move forward in the field. At the same time this was happening, the yellows were activated for an incident in turn 3. At the time we thought “here we go again” with Foxy only just making the pass having to go back again but this time Brandon was out and we reformed for the restart running 4th. On the restart Jacko and Glen shot out to a lead again while Foxy turned his attentions to passing the 4s machine of Mark Dixon. Dicko was running the poleline and unlike Brandon was keeping the car tight thru the turns, this helped us immensely as Foxy was able to run the highline and move past quite quickly without risk. It is typical that the guy who had a good setup and was able to run where he wanted keeping the car tidy was easier to pass than a guy who was really struggling taking up the whole track. Doesn't seem fair does it. Anyway Foxy moved into 3rd then started to chase down the leaders who were also running the low line. Unfortunately the laps ran out and although Foxy was making massive inroads into their lead we never got anywhere close enough to mount a challenge coming home about 5-6 car lengths back in 3rd. Another yellow a few laps out may have made things interesting but it wasn't to be.
So there we have it. Jacko won his 2nd NZ title and is this year's champion. Glen made the podium for the 3rd year in a row and Foxy will be running the 3nz for the next 12 months. Given our starting position for the final we were very happy with the result. Making the podium in any place in a NZ title event is a great honor and we will wear the number proudly. Foxy had the best car in the final race and was the only car to really move forward in the field by passing quality cars. What is even more pleasing is that we think the car was really only starting to come on in the later laps so that bodes well for the Dirt Cup etc which will be a longer race later in the season.
Thanks to Roger and CSL for their support of the event and to all our sponsors for their continued help. A big thanks to the club and the volunteers who put the effort in to getting this event run, it was a mission. To the drivers for their patience, thanks guys, we know how hard it is when rainouts hit so we appreciate the sacrifices made to stick around to make this happen. As for the Dirt Cup, well I will be discussing this with the club over the next few days to try and find a date that will suit both the mods and the superstocks that doesn't conflict with other tracks schedules, wish me luck finding a date!!
Next meet for Team Fox is the KOM meeting in Stratty on the 12th Feb. A few other guys from Auckland with mobile cars have indicated they will help us support the Stratty meeting so numbers should be pretty good.