Summer has arrived!
You would think it had anyway with the brilliant weather we were blessed with at Rotorua for Easter weekend.
Last year we sat in our motel for 3 days while the rain played havoc. Result? No racing at all, huge bills and unhappy drivers and fans. This year we had the opposite, even though we were warned all week by the so called weather experts to expect crappy weather, it never eventuated. You wouldn’t want to listen to them to schedule your events!! LOL!
Unfortunately for the mod class, 5 hard weeks or racing finally took its toll and cars were dropping out faster than then league balls do when the bombs are sent Manu’s way at a Warriors game and that takes some doing! By the time we got to the weekend we were left with a pretty disappointing 8 cars. Guys in attendance were 5s, 11a, 12s, 22a, 29a, 55s, 78a and 226s. After the first 2 heats were down to 6 with 22a sustaining big damage in his role in heat 1 and 226s suffering axle damage in heat 2. Both these guys were gone for the weekend. As it was a 2 day event we couldn’t call in replacements for night 2 as it wouldn’t have been fair to the guys who started night 1.
Format for the mods was simple. We were running for the best pairs over 6 races and the Ginge Heywood memorial in the 7th and last race for us on the weekend on night 2. The main title was that of the Individual Easter champ, this was also contested over the 6 heat races the pairs were done on. Marbledraw night 1 with championship front middle back griddraws and then the same deal again night 2. Grids for Ginge were based on lowest to highest points from the Easter Champs results. Simple!
Having only 8 cars on night 1 and 6 on night 2 made for pretty average racing to be fair. Rotorua is not an easy track to pass on and you can be significantly quicker than the car in front but find yourself with no option but to follow them for an entire race if they don’t make a mistake. Foxy drew grid 8 for his first race on night one and had some hard work to do before finishing a well deserved 2nd. On any other night going from last on the grid to 2nd would likely see you in a pretty comfortable position but as we lost 22a in heat 1 after Foxy had done the hard work of passing him and then 226s in heat 2 while he was doing a good job holding 55s at bay meant that we only ended up with a 1 point lead at the end of night 1 with 1 x win and 2 x 2nds. To be fair our car was not the best on night 1 as we didn’t have the right gear set in the diff. This was fixed for night 2 and we thank the Hickeys for the loan of the ones we needed. Given this we were surprised to learn that Foxy actually broke his own modified lap record in the last heat of the night in setting a new mark of 14.2652. Not bad seeing as the car looked to be struggling off the turns.
Points after night 1 for the individual title had Foxy leading with 28, 55s 2nd with 27 and 12s 3rd on 25. Best pairs were all tied up with each of the 3 pairs still mobile all having the same points! 11a and 5s, 55s and 29a, 12s and 78s all had 45 points.
Night 2 and Foxy drew grid 3 for heat 1 leaving him with grid 6 in heat 2 and grid 2 for the last. 55s was down to leave in front of us in the fist 2 races (grids 1 and 4). This gave him a slight advantage and we knew we had to pass him in one of these races to win the title outright. As stated above, on this track with no traffic this would not be easy. As it happened Paul made a slight mistake, while leading, exiting turn 4 and this was enough to allow Foxy to move past and take the win. This mistake also cost Paul 2nd at the time with Jason moving past but when Jason lost his driveshaft (this had a big impact on the grids for the Ginge later in the night), Paul was able to regain his spot and finish 2nd.
Heading into heat 5 it was a 2 horse race between Foxy and Paul. Paul made short work from his grid 4 start to move into 2nd behind 78a Ray Chatfield. Foxy didn’t take long either to get on Paul’s bumper in 3rd. Foxy was pretty content running where he was as he knew if they finished this way he would have a 1 point lead over Paul heading into the last race with the advantage of knowing he was leaving from grid 2 and Paul was going from 6. As it happened on the very last lap of the race Ray made a mistake and opened the door enough for Paul to get past, Foxy gave it a go in the last turn to make the pass as well but to no avail and he had to settle for 3rd. This result also was the important break that 55s and 29a needed in the pairs race. Heading in to the last race we were all tied up with Paul on 48 points. All Foxy had to do was win off the front and then we would move on to the Ginge Heywood event. Foxy duly led from start to finish winning the Easter Champ title and never looked at any threat. Paul moved his way into 2nd and this was enough to take 2nd in the championship. Ray Chatfield in the 78a machine did enough to get on the podium in 3rd.
Best pair’s title went to 55s and 29a with 94 points. 11a and 5s took 2nd with 91 points with 12s and 78a finishing in 3rd with 80 points.
As mentioned above the final race on night 2 was the Ginge Heywood memorial race. Grid for this at the guys with fewest points from the Easter Champs going off the front with the highest points leaving from the rear. This meant we were off grid 6. Due to his problems earlier in the night, 12s Jason Kalin found himself leaving from grid 1 and we knew it would be a big ask to catch up. On the start Foxy got baulked a little and this let the 55s of Paul Ward get through into 2nd pretty quickly behind Jason. Foxy quickly moved into 3rd behind Paul and started mounting the pressure. Due to the water that was put down prior to the start of the race it took about 8 laps before the track became racey enough to consider making some moves. On about lap 9 Foxy tried an outside move on Paul exiting turn 4 and I think this caught Paul out a bit as no one had been able to make outside passes stick all night (not enough room out there!). Heading into turn 1 side by side Foxy was able to sit tight enough on Paul to make the pass stick and he started to give chase to Jason. At this stage Foxy was running nearly a full second a lap quicker than Jason and it wasn’t long until he caught him up. It caught us somewhat by surprise to see the white flag get thrown just as Foxy caught Jason as we didn’t know that the race had been shortened from the planned 15 laps to only 12. Try as Foxy did he simply ran out of time to have a real dig at Jason on the last lap and had to settle for 2nd. If it had gone the full 15 laps I am pretty sure we had the car to take this out. Jason was running high through turns 1 and 2 and I am sure Foxy would have been able to get under him off turn 2. In saying that is was great to see Jason take the trophy and it was obvious to all at the prizegiving just how much this title meant to him. Well done mate.
This leaves Team Fox with 1 more outing this season. The plan at this stage is to run Waikaraka’s last meet on April 28th. Who knows what the weather will be doing by then but, assuming it is not raining, I would suggest the club look at starting at 6pm instead of 7pm. Trying to run meets this late in the season is a 50/50 proposition at the best of time so getting it done and dusted by 9pm is a must in my humble opinion. Anyway we may see you there!