Woxy wins in Watu!!
MANA-Watu that is!!
Driving home from Rotorua after Easter the team was relieved to have finished our travels for the season on a high by taking out the Easter Champs title. Suitcases had been packed away for the off season and the fuelcard was looking forward to having a few months off to recover. This all changed after a text conversation with Bruce Robertson on the first day back at work. Palmerston North was going to run the first Manawatu Modified Champs in god knows how many years on April 21st and would we support it?
After a conversation with the driver, crew, wives, bank managers etc etc we decided that given what Bruce and Puk have done for the class this year up at Auckland it really was the least we could do. Anything we can do to support the class at other tracks (within reason) we will endeavor to do. Palmy and Baypark are both showing an interest in promoting the class and adding them to their programs, so the least we can do is support them.
A decision was made to make the trek down on Saturday, race Saturday night and haul back Sunday. For obvious reasons the wives and girlfriends decided this was to big an ask for them so it was just the boys who headed down to wave the flag. Being late in the season, we were the only Auckland car that could commit to the trip. 11 of the expected 12 cars turned up with 2 missing from the original list but one late edition. Guys in attendance were 1nz, 4s, 5s, 9w, 11a, 17w, 31s, 72s, 91w, 114e and 226s. 5w and 12s were lost to mechanical issues. 72s was a late addition and driven by Merv’s son Matt, he elected to run off the rear all night.
Format was one I am not a fan of. Marbledraw heat 1, reverse heat 2 and then highest points scorer needs to pull a marble to establish starting positions for the main title race at the end of the night, first across the line wins. If the highest point’s scorer pulls one from the hat he starts from grid 1 and the grid is formed by highest to lowest points. If he pulls 2 then he has to start from grid 6 and the rest of the top 6 are inverted. Grids 7 to last form up as normal.
Foxy drew grid 8 for heat one which gave us grid 3 for the 2nd heat. Having not run at the track for over 20 years it is fair to say that what would be required for car setup was a bit of guess work and we missed it a little for the first heat. Foxy was able to make gains through the field to come home in 4th place but the car looked to lack the required speed so changes would be needed. Hest 2 and we were off 3. Farron in the 31s machine was showing good speed and we had no answer for him. We came home in 2nd but realised further adjustment would be required to challenge for the title.
After the 2 heats Dicko in the 4s machine came out on top with regard points and he had the unenviable task of pulling the marble to establish the starting order for the title race. Being 2nd on points our chances hung on Dicko. To both his and our dismay he drew marble 2 which meant an inverted top 6 start for the title race. He would be leaving from 6 and we would need to go from grid 5. This put the next best 4 cars in front of us on the grid and these guys were 226s, 9w, 1nz and 31s. Race distance was set for 15 laps and to pass 1 or 2 of these guys was not going to be easy let alone all of them!
Before our 2 heat races a sprinkle of water was put down on the track and this resulted in the track being unusable with regard passing options for the first 3-4 laps in each race. A request was made to leave the water truck in the pits prior to our feature race so that at least it didn’t turn into a lottery at the start of the race. They took on board what we were saying and the request was granted.
When the guys ventured out we found that 9w was unable to make the grid so this left a gap on grid 2 giving the guys on the outside a slight advantage. As expected entering turn 1 for the first time we found ourselves behind all the main players including Dicko who had been able to use the advantage of the gap on 2 to give the small gap he needed to get his nose in front of us. What ensued from here was great mod racing, passing isn’t easy at Palmy given the skinny nature of the straights and the only way to pass was to “flex your elbows” a bit when you were given the smallest opportunity on the inside. With Farron, Bunter and Dicko all fighting to get the advantage over one another and find a way pass the pole sitter Blair Luscombe in the 226s machine it allowed Foxy the opportunities to pick them off one at time. First he found a way past Dicko, then in a similar move he got past Bunter and then Farron. With laps counting down he still had to find a way past Blair and when the opportunity of an inside move heading into turn 3 presented itself Foxy didn’t need to be asked twice making a nice move though to the lead. Once in front Foxy cleared away from the pack and left the rest to fight it out for the minor placings.
Farron, Bunter and Dicko all finally found their way past Blair as well and the final finishing order was 11a, 31s, 1nz, 4s. Congrats to all the guys.
We have been very lucky with the weather in the late part of the season. How we have managed to get all these events in with out interruption is amazing but we have and that is what is important. Palmy is definitely our last out of town run this season! To round it of with another title is fantastic. Thanks to Bruce, Puk and the teams in Palmy for putting on the event and making us feel welcome, we hope to be back a few times next season.
This Saturday is our swan song for the season. We run one last time at Waikaraka for the year. It is hard to believe that we haven’t run at the park for over a month but is an indication of the travel that needs to be done now if you want to run competitively in our class. I expect next year will involve even more travel with multiple meetings being held at tracks that have run mods for the first time this season. Racing week in and week out at your home track is a thing of the past and guys need to show the necessary commitment required to foster the class and get to the top of the tree. Only running against the best cars at different tracks gives you the experience you need to be in the mix when you race. It is not a fluke that Foxy wins events, or is it that he has better gear than everyone else. He wins because he has done the hard yards, travelled to most if not all tracks in the country and learned from his experiences both good and bad. Believe me there have been more bad times than good times! To succeed you need to accept defeats when they happen and acknowledge when you are beaten by a superior car / driver on the night. You take way from these meetings a heap of knowledge regardless of where you finish and this helps you the next time you roll out of the pits. Foxy is getting the results he deserves for his commitment and dedication to the class and the challenge to the others is to follow suit.
Don’t forget folks that racing stats at 6pm this weekend and not 7pm. Hopefully the weather gods come to the party for 1 more night this season and we can finish in style.
See you at the track.