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Now THAT is what we are talking about!!

The modified class found its “nirvana” on Saturday night with the class appearing at Baypark for the first time. I have never seen so many mod drivers walking around after a meeting with ear to ear smiles! You would have thought they all won!!
You guys / girls who live in Tauranga are lucky, lucky people to have such an awesome venue in your city for speedway. We have heard all the moans and groans from various quarters over the years about Baypark, but if Saturday is anything to go by, there must be some pretty hard people to please down your way!!
Fantastic track, brilliant facility with plenty of room, super efficient, friendly officials and staff and great atmosphere. What more do you need??!!
The mod guys had been looking forward to this meeting since it was announced last year and they did not come away disappointed. 16 guys took the start line for heat 1 and these 16 were: 1nz, 2nz, 4s, 6s, 11a, 12s, 17a, 19a, 22a, 29a, 31s, 36a, 55s, 64a, 77s and 226s. Big ups to Luke Keegan for heading up from Christchurch for the event, I am pretty sure he went away fairly happy that he made the right call in attending and, like the rest of us, can’t wait to get back!
Format for the night was marbledraw heat 1, reversed for heat 2 and then highest points off grid 1 for the feature. Heat races were 14 laps and the feature would be 20.
To give the guys an opportunity to have a wee shakedown before the first heat, they were given a hot laps session of 6 laps. This ended up being invaluable as small refinements were made by everyone on their return to the pits (including us!). To be honest most guys got it pretty close straight off the trailer. Although the track is a lot wider (especially in the turns), the distance around the poleline is actually less than Waikaraka Park. You need to make decisions about where you intend to run before heading out on the track to maximize your car speed.

Heat 1 had Foxy leaving from last on the grid (grid 16). He had no choice but to get straight into it and I think this helped his mindset. Once again we expected the main threats to be Bunter in the 1nz and Luke in the 2nz. Both these guys were starting mid pack one behind the other (Luke in front of Bunter). On the green it became obvious that on this track there is no where to hide! You cannot defend your position. On most tracks in the country, track position in critical. If you are in front and holding good lines it is very hard for anyone to pass you even if they are quicker. Not so at Baypark! The track is that wide that if you have good pace you can pass cars at will and this is what happened on Saturday. Luke and Foxy were the first two to utilize this option with both running high, wide and handsome, passing guys like they were standing still. When guys were backing off the gas heading into the turns Luke and Foxy were powering around them on the outside. By about lap 4 Luke had moved his way into 2nd behind polesitter 77s Craig Ward. Foxy was also making massive moves back in the pack and had managed to clear away from 1nz Bunter Pierce and many others. At about ½ distance Luke had the misfortune to lose his left rear and this put him to the infield, Foxy meanwhile was still carving them up in the pack and was closing in on the front runners. A great move on the outside of turns 3/4 saw Foxy pass the 4s machine of Mark Dixon through the turn and then the 55s machine of Paul Ward coming off the turn. This put him into 2nd place. As the last few laps wound down he proceeded to chase down the 77s machine of Craig Ward and, although he caught him, he ran out of time to make the pass due to backmarkers being in the mix. He came in pretty happy with his 1st run and didn’t actually realise he was fighting for 1st with Craig on the last lap. Finish order: 77s, 11a, 55s, 4s, 64a, 1nz, 226s, 22a, 19a, 31s, 12s, 17a, 36a, 29a, 6s. 2nz DNF. Fastest time an impressive 15.4015 by 2nz Luke Keegan. Foxy next best with a 15.7314.

Heading out for heat 2 we knew we were in a pretty strong position. Starting from the front row, it would be all about consolidating our point's advantage to make sure we were off the front for the feature. Foxy got away clean and, although the car was slightly over hooked for the first half of the race, he was slowly able to eke out an advantage from 19a Scotty Lane who was running 2nd. Thing’s got interesting when lapped traffic came into play with some of the guys struggling to hold their lines. Foxy was cautious and worked his way through eventually coming home for a comfortable win. Bunter in the 1nz came home 2nd after a wee bit of wheel rubbing with Scotty, with Luke moving up to 3rd. Only 3 guys got into the 15s bracket in this one (11a, 1nz and 19a). Foxy set the fastest time with a 15.7221. Finishing order: 11a, 1nz, 2nz, 22a, 31a, 19a, 4s, 29a, 226s, 55s, 17a, 6s, 36a, 64a, 12s.
Working out the point’s wash-up Foxy was a clear winner with 31 out of a possible 32. Next was Bunter 5 points back on 26. The reward for being the highest point’s scorer was the handicap of leaving from grid 1 in the feature instead of having the option to leave from the preferred start of grid 2 (pacesetter). It is was it is and we set about making a few changes to the car that we did hope would give Foxy a strong car in the second half of the race. We knew that even if he lost a few places at the start it was important he had a strong car at the end because, if you did, guys couldn’t stop you from passing as mentioned above. This takes a mindset change from running at all the other tracks.

At the start Bunter shot away to about a 6-8 car lead and for a lap or two Foxy came under pressure from the pack. As the laps starting rolling through Foxy got faster and faster and the gap between him and Bunter got smaller and smaller. At about ½ distance Bunter got held up a little passing a back marker and this was all the invitation Foxy needed, powering through on the inside for the lead, This is where the confusion hits in, as the guys completed the next lap with Foxy in front, Scotty in the 19a machine rolled on the back straight bringing out the yellows. Confusion ensued with the blackboard showing a restart order of 1nz, 29a, 11a (29a being a lap down). Foxy went in behind Bunter but then the flag marshals on the front straight and through turns 1 and 2 kept gesturing to him to move back in front of Bunter! Never one to turn down an opportunity Foxy duly moved back in front of Bunter and the yellows went out for the restart. Once we went green Foxy was gone. Luke made some impressive passes to move into 3rd but then ran out of car speed to mount a serious challenge to Bunter in 2nd. Foxy just kept churning out the laps at pace extending the gap lap after lap. He eventually came home about a third of a lap in front. What was great to know is that Foxy said the car was still getting better at the end and that he reckoned if the race had been another 10 laps the setup would have been bang on! Finish order was: 11a, 1nz, 2nz, 4s, 22a, 64a, 55s, 226s, 31s, 6s and 36a. Two guys got into the 15s bracket in this one (11a and 1nz) with all the others in the 16’s. Foxy set his fastest lap of the night with a 15.6898.

There we have it folks, the mods first outing on Baypark. This track is the perfect modified track. We still believe that of all the tracks that contract mods on a regular basis, Waikaraka is still the best mod track in the country (may be biased!) but you can’t deny that this Baypark track is special. There is no doubt that this is the best track for modified racing we have ever been to in the 27 years we have been racing. The track allows our cars to run like they are designed to run and this allowed the guys to put on a great show without any carnage. I strongly encourage the Baypark promoters / club to seriously think about scheduling 3 shows there next season so they become eligible to run SNZ events. The drivers who missed out on Saturday would love this place and I have no doubt that they could put on an awesome show for the paying public. If they schedule more meetings there the drivers will support them, they loved it!!
Once again, thanks to Roger, Bernie and the team at the track, we had a blast!
Next meeting for Team Fox is this weekend at Rotorua for the Easter Championship over 2 nights. Let’s hope we get one more fine weather weekend to get this done and dusted. What a contrast this will be, from the biggest tracks in the country one week to one of the smallest!
See you at the track!



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