NZGP – Wellington
Saturday Feb 2nd had Team Fox front in Wellington to try and defend our NZGP title. 19 cars fronted and the cars were split into 2 groups. Each group contested 2 heat races for points (marble draw and reverse) and highest points scorer across both groups would have lane choice for the 25 lap title race.
Foxy drew group 1 along with 3nz, 12s, 17w, 77s, 226s, 13c, 9w and 15w. Foxy drew grid 3 for heat 1 and grid 8 for heat 2.
Heat 1 and the track was wet and slippery. 12s led out from his front row start and Foxy sat in behind until about lap 8 waiting for the track to become good enough to allow passing. With about 4 to go Foxy made the pass around the outside and went on to win the heat.
Heat 2 and we were off grid 8. With Craig in the 77s having problems pre race it left a gap in front of us on the grid. With another gap also on grid 4 it meant that Foxy had clear track in front of him right up to grid 2! The ref made it pretty clear pre meeting that any gaps at race start were to be maintained so Foxy obliged and lined up on the outside of 13c as he was supposed to do. No point having any dramas about jumped starts! When the lights went green Foxy quickly made use of the advantage, he had been lucky enough to receive, and ended up dicing it up with Jacko in the 3nz machine for 2nd and 3rd on the first lap. Foxy eventually made the pass and proceeded to run down Blair in the 9w machine who had shot out to a healthy lead from his front row start. Foxy quickly got on his bumper and although he had a few little looks at making a pass, none were serious attempts and he was more than happy to settle for 2nd knowing that it would almost certainly guarantee the top qualifier spot regardless of what happened in group 2 heat 2 given their first heat results.
When all the points were totaled Foxy was the clear leader in the points by 4 and was rewarded with his choice of lane to start the trophy race. He duly choose grid 2. Bunter in the 67s machine would leave from grid 1, Jacko in 3nz from 3, Farron in 31s from 4, David in 13c from 5 and Luke in 1nz from 6. Plan was to win the start and then run our preferred line to hopefully win the race. Given our starting position we were reasonably confident. This confidence proved to be unjustified!
Before heading out we made changes to the car that in hindsight proved to be the wrong ones. New rubber was bolted on at the rear (both left and right), shocks were changed and other tweaks were done. We wanted the car to be fast down low as we expected this to be the best place to run as the laps wound down. Foxy jumped out to the lead at the start and started putting distance between he and the rest. Luke got a great start and headed straight upstairs to pass both Farron and Bunter, this put him 2nd on the track and he started to give chase to Foxy. It wasn’t long until the leaders hit the backmarkers and this is where Luke pounced on, an initially unbelieving, Foxy. Foxy took a low line into turn 3 to line up a pass on a back marker and Luke took a lot more pace into the turn on the highline and simply drove around Foxy. This caught Foxy on the hop a little and gave him a bit of a kick up the backside, what ensued from here was a good 3-4 lap battle with Foxy down low and Luke up high trying to find a way past the 4w and 55s cars who were also contesting for position amongst themselves. It was obvious these two would have a big say on who would get away to win and this proved to be the case. While fighting with these guys the lead changed a few times between Luke and Foxy but it was becoming clear that Luke had the best spot on the track to make the passes and running out by the wall (actually tagging it a few times) he was able to round both these guys while leaving Foxy boxed in down on the poleline. Eventually Foxy found his way past, but by this time Luke had been able to put another lapped car in between them and with no yellows coming into play it was effectively race over. Luke 1st, Foxy 2nd and Farron 3rd.
Luke deserves a lot of praise for his performance. No one has been able to make a pass stick on Foxy for a very, very long time so to pull this off when we had the advantage is impressive. I think we may have headed into the final a bit too complacent, we had looked good through the qualifying heats and thought Luke would take longer than he did to get past some of the other guys. We didn’t show the hunger or passion like we did the week before at the Dirt Cup and this ended up biting us. Instead of taking a conservative approach into the final we should have been more aggressive with the setup and gave Foxy a car that would have enabled him to run up high. Luke on the other hand had nothing to lose, he had qualified poorly after a difficult heat 1 for him and turned this into a positive, firing up for the final, so hats off to him. It was a well deserved win.
The rest of the modified class must be sick of the sight of these two fighting it out for the titles on offer week after week. There is nothing between them and if one doesn’t get their setup 100% right the other will take full advantage. This on going battle moves up to Palmerston North this weekend where they will contest the Manawatu Modified champs on Saturday night, with Foxy taking the honors at the Dirt Cup and Luke the honors at the GP it will be an interesting battle. I have no doubt that Palmy will also prove to be a great evener between these two and the rest as well, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Bunter, Jacko, Farron and a few more of the Stratty and Wellington boys come into contention on the night. Passing will not be easy! Should be a doozey.
After this weekend in Palmy we will be taking a break for a few weeks with our next planned meeting being the Auckland Modified Champs on March 9th (night 2 of the teams here in Auckland). The club hopes a few Stratty guys will head up to bolster the numbers and we will be looking to defend our title. After this our last meeting planned for the season is Easter weekend. We are currently working through some logistics and there is a chance we will be heading down to Christchurch instead of Rotorua to contest the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the invasion series, we won’t be able to win the event as we are not running in round 1 at Wellington this Wednesday but if things come together we will look to support the Christchurch event as a thank you for their boys supporting the Dirt Cup. This is not set in concrete yet and we will confirm when we know for sure.
Other news to hand is that we now have a date for our SNZ appeal hearing with regard the NZ Champs meeting in Stratty. It is down for February 21st. Result of this will be posted in due course.
See ya at Palmy this weekend.
Team Fox .