Crazy time has arrived!
Hi Folks, when we sat down at the start of the season and put together our cars schedule for the season it became obvious that we would have a pretty disjointed summer. The first part of the season would be club night after club night with little else. There would be a few one off events along the way until the end of Feb and then all hell would break loose in the last 5-6 weeks of the season. Well break loose it has!!
Saturday Feb 25th had team Fox venture up to Whangarei for the 30 lapper event that was rained off earlier in the season. 7 Auckland teams made the trip and it was a good day out in the sun running a few laps. It is fair to say we struggled a little bit to find a setup that worked on this track but in the end we did enough to take away the title for the 2012 season. Mission accomplished with no damage.
Saturday March 3rd was never a race date for us, which is lucky considering we had the weather bomb come through!
This brings us to Saturday just gone. March 10th was the first of the manic, crazy period we have been dreading / looking forward to since October last year. 5 weekend’s of flat out crazy events for mods which will likely be just as much about survival as it is about winning. If Saturday is anything to go by the survival part may be a stretch!!
20 cars fronted in Stratty for the North Island modified title. Luckily the event was pulled back from the originally planned 2 day affair to a more realistic 1 day event. The cars in attendance were 1nz, 4s, 4w, 5s, 5w, 6s, 8s, 8w, 9w, 11a, 12s, 15w, 17w, 31s, 55s, 71, 72, 77s, 91w and 226s. Format was 3 x 20 lap races for the title, standard championship draw. At Stratford this was going to be “eventful”.
Foxy drew grid 6 for our first race and this gave us 16 for heat 2 and grid 10 for the last heat. We expected our main opposition to come from Stratty’s big 3 (Bunter, Jacko and Dicko). In the first heat all we had to worry about was Dicko in the 4s machine as he was the only one starting in front of us (from grid 3). Right from the green flag this race was all on and it didn’t take long at all to get a caution thrown (first of many that I lost count of). Foxy was making great progress and had made some great passes the most important of which was on Dicko in the 4s machine. It wasn’t long before Foxy was banging on the bumper of race leader Craig Ward in the 77s machine who had shot out to the front from his grid 1 start. Craig was carrying good pace and try as he did Foxy just couldn’t find a way past. While these two were powering away, the rest of the field was a fair way back with Dicko holding down 3rd. It seemed that this race was destined to never end as stoppage after stoppage ensued due to various major incidents. Two of these incidents ended the hopes of two of the favorites for the title when first Jacko and then Bunter had major moments that ended their races. Jacko’s was that bad that it ended his night completely and he now has a race against time to get his car ready for this weeks Dirt Cup. After about caution number 5 we were starting to get worried about how long this race was taking. SNZ limits us to a 55 litre fuel tank and these cars are not designed to run long races. The 30 lap Dirt Cup is a push and only gets completed if there are very few caution periods. These races for the North Island title were set down for 20 laps and I got told after the event by a club member that the mods had done near on 50 laps by the end of the race. I suppose I don’t need to tell you what happened next, after what ended up being the last restart the guys had 2 laps to go and we ran out of fuel with 1 to go dropping us from a certain 2nd place to not even making the finish line! We were eventually awarded 8 points for a lowly 13 place but to say we were gutted is an understatement. It is easy in hindsight now, but what should have happened after a few caution periods is red lights should have been thrown instead of yellows, this would have allowed guys to stop their cars instead of the endless circulating that was done. I am sure if the officials had known how this race was going to pan out, they would have done so. It still amazes me how no other car ran out of fuel if they are running legal size fuel tanks but I suppose we will never know.
On returning to the pits we fueled up the car and got it running again, luckily if hadn’t seemed to hurt the engine so we had a quick debate about the merits of going out for the next 2 races given we were likely out of the running and knowing we had big events coming up in the next few weeks. This debate took all of about 10 seconds and we decided to power on to see what we could learn. Heat 2 had us off grid 16 and Foxy was a man on mission. Although this race had the odd caution it was nothing in comparison to heat 1 and it flowed a lot more. Foxy made steady progress through the field, again passing Dicko in the 4s machine. With a few laps to run Foxy had worked his way up to 4th and was all over the 12s machine of Jason Kalin for 3rd. Exiting turn 2 Jason’s machine inexplicitly lost power and Foxy had to take evasive action. Foxy dove to the outside of the track nearly collecting the wall and Dicko who was running behind Foxy dove to the infield to avoid both. Neither backed off the gas and this resulted in Dicko getting ahead of us, albeit coming off the infield. With only a lap or so to go this is how they came home with Bunter taking the win, 55s Paul Ward coming home 2nd, Dicko 3rd and us 4th. As we were out of the title chase we didn’t see the point in questioning why something wasn’t done about Dicko passing us on the grass and, to be fair to him, he didn’t have much choice given he had to take evasive action as we did to avoid Jason. We were still pretty happy about making it up to 4th from a grid 16 start. If not for the Jason incident we would likely have come home in 3rd at a minimum.
A 13th and a 4th had us sitting in 7th place with 25 points heading into the last heat. Given, (if we hadn’t run out of fuel in heat 1 or had to take evasive action with Jason in heat 2) we would have been leading the points by 2 over Dicko, we were a little disappointed about not heading out with a realistic chance of taking the title. A podium finish was achievable if we had a decent run and that was enough to peak our interest. All of the guys in front of us on points were starting behind us, Dicko only had to finish to take the title but Paul Ward in the 55s machine who was running 2nd on points only had 8 points on us and he was off the last row. We knew if we could win the race from our grid 10 start it might be enough to make it interesting. Again Foxy got a flier, the track was a bit greasy at the start due to some water being put down but this blew off after a lap or two. Bunter in the 1nz only lasted about 2 laps in this one as he tried a dive around a car entering turn one and rode a wheel. A massive end for end barrel-roll ensued and his race was over. On the restart Foxy worked his way up to 4th and started to challenge Ricey for 3rd in the 8s machine. It just wasn’t going to be our night as exiting turn 4 Ricey drifted wide and Foxy lined up the inside pass. Coming off the turn Ricey’s car cut out (what is it with these Stratty cars cutting out all the time in front of us!!) and instead of just holding his line he decided to turn left and try to make the infield. No guess’s for what happened here with Foxy having no where to go but over Ricey’s front wheel sending us skyward. Foxy was awarded 10 points for the style shown in the takeoff but had 20 points taken off him for his landing!! The car came down hard on the left front smashing the front end out of the car and bringing it to an abrupt stop. Race over! Foxy was extremely lucky not to go over as these pictures show for those who like looking at others misfortune! Thanks to Scott Lamb for all the images and there are many more on our media page.
So there we have it, we survived (just!) on the night. We left the meeting feeling pretty happy, although we didn’t win, we did pass the guy who did win in the 2 races we started behind him and we showed good pace all night. Running out of fuel was a real bummer but what happened to us in heat 2 and heat 3 was out of our control. We left with about $1000.00 worth of damage but to be fair we got off lightly compared to some others. A lot of guys have a busy week ahead trying to get damaged cars ready for this weekend’s event. Fingers crossed most make it. We have definitely lost the 72s mod of Merv Julian as his car is that bad he is done for the season. Jacko is only rated a slim chance as his car is also looking pretty 2nd hand. Bunter has confirmed he should be all good to go after some late nights. I am still to get an update from the Wellington brigade as I believe between them they lost 3 engines as well as suffered accident damage to 2 others. All in all not the start any of us wanted to kick of the mad part of the season!!
Congrats to Dicko for going back to back in the North Island title. He drove smart given what has happening around him and to finish first, first you must finish! Also congrats to both Paul Ward in the 55s machine and new boy Farron Lowry in the 31s machine who both had good nights and rounded out the podium.
This Saturday we are at home for the Fastening Solutions 30 lap Modified Dirt Cup, I really hope that given the bad luck we had last year getting this event run that the racing gods look on us more favorably this season and we get a clear run at it. We have assembled a class field and given the track has been pretty racey lately we should have a great night. It is up to the fans now to show their support the event so that the new promoter at the track can see for himself that mods can attract a good crowd and that the class is worth getting in behind. Up to you folks now.
See you at the track!