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Championship Update 14 Jan 2013

Hi folks, happy New Year to everyone.

Since our last update Team Fox has contested 2 events, the North Island Champs in Rotorua and the New Zealand champs in Stratford.

NI Champs – Rotorua.
Weather and poor driver support played havoc with this event and the show was eventually reduced down from a 2 nighter to a one night affair. It also ended up running a day later than originally scheduled due to rain. I feel terrible for Sonja and the Rotorua club as they put a lot of effort into the event. The driver indifference to supporting the event is surprising and, if we are being honest, unsatisfactory.

12 guys fronted for a run at the title and these guys were 1nz, 6a, 11a, 12s, 18r, 19a, 31s, 44s, 55s, 71s, 77s and 78a. Jason in the 12s had a hell night and was out before the event turned a lap.

Given there were few cars the race pace was pretty quick and passing points were at a premium. Racing itself was pretty clean with a tangle between Foxy and Scotty, that put Scotty out, in heat 2 being the only real issue all night. Contrary to the commentary teams version of what happened there wasn’t a lot in it and it was just 2 guys going at it without giving an inch that resulted in the contact, purely and simply a racing incident and there were no ramifications after the race, in fact neither guy was even spoken to by the officials.

Scotty followed on his good form from Baypark earlier in the month in this event and once he was out of contention in heat 2 it really became pretty simple for Foxy. We seemed to be just that little bit better than everyone else on the night and although we actually never won a race, we won the event by a very comfortable 4 point margin with 3 2nd placings from our grid 4, 10 and 6 starts. This gave Foxy North Island title number 4 and puts him one behind Murray Gordge in this event. Farron in the 31s machine drove consistently all night and took 2nd with the 55s of Paul Ward rounding out the podium.

A great start to our back to back championship challenges for the season.

NZ Champs – Stratford
This event is the big one for us every year and we were heading into it pretty confident about our chances given the dominating start we have had to our shortened season.

23 mods eventually fronted for qualifying night and due to the lower than expected number the format was changed from having 3 groups to just 2. Each group would have 3 points races with the standard front/middle/back format and the top 9 in each group would go through to the finals, rest to repercharge. Our aim here was to take care of the basics and simply do enough just to qualify without taking any unnecessary risks.

Scruitineering was a doddle and, if we are being honest, seeing as this was a national title event it was pretty average. Cars were weighed and the token look under the bonnet was about as good as it got. No engine puffer in sight to check engine legality.

We drew group one and it was made up of 2nz, 4c, 5w, 6s, 11a, 17w, 22s, 31s, 32gm, 55s, 81s and 226s. Heat one had a few guys pushing very hard trying to win the title in heat one of qualifying but we just avoided the issues and cruised around knowing a finish in all 3 heats would be all that was required. I think a few guys had a bit of a talking to by their crews when they came back in and the remaining 2 heats were pretty tame. We did enough to qualify 4th in the group and went home happy.

The biggest issue night one was with regard the hardness of some cars right rears. Our rules specify that the right rear must duro up to 40 and apparently after the first 2 races of the night the SNZ officials had identified 9 cars where this was not the case and were initially going to exclude them from the nights racing. Most of these guys were running the RD20 Hoosier tyres that are sold by Cardwell’s as the modified right rears and is pretty much the tyre of choice for most teams. A mad panic ensued and in the end the officials came over to us and borrowed our duro meter, they also had a couple of other ones from I think Bunter and Scotty. They then proceeded to do a comparison test with their SNZ gauge and all ours. All 3 of the gauges owned by the drivers gave readings well over the SNZ gauge and more importantly proved that all the tyres in question were in fact all over 40! It was accepted that the SNZ gauge was obviously faulty and we moved on with all drivers reinstated. Panic and stress over!!

Finals night

First race out was the repercharge with 5 cars contesting for the final 2 spots. 32gm was hugely unlucky in this one clearing out to a comfortable lead before his engine expired with only a few laps to go, while in the process of trying to get to the infield it created a wee bit of havoc in behind which resulted in 55s Paul Ward spinning out and triggering the yellows. The officials obviously took the stance that although the yellow was triggered by a spun 55s, he wasn’t the cause of the incident so they allowed him to restart in his position. I am not sure that based on the wording in the rule that this is actually the correct action but it was what they did and he went on to claim one of the 2 remaining spots in the finals along with 16s.

Scruitineering was even more lax night 2 than night 1 and not even the scales were sighted! Some drivers were heard joking that this was great as they could go back and remove the ballast weight they have in their cars if the cars weren’t even going to be weighted during the night! Still no engine checks and the token glance under the bonnet duly happened. Let’s go racing!!

Foxy drew grid 10 for heat 1 which we were pretty comfortable with being fair. At least he wasn’t jammed down on the inside with limited options. The racing for the best part was clean and event free early on. The only major casualties in this heat were 55s Paul Ward who suffered a horrifying roll and fire that totaled his car and left Paul with a trip to hospital to get some burns checked out (word is he is fine and we hope you make a speedy recovery Paul), the other casualty was the 9w machine of Blair McPhee who tangled with Scotty. This one was unfortunate for us as Foxy had made some good passes and had worked his way past these guys before the incident while others hadn’t. Those that hadn’t were gifted some cheap points. Foxy continued to make progress up the field when the racing restarted and eventually came home in a creditable 3rd position from his grid 10 start. Every point he made he had to work for and earn by passing a car, he got no freebees. Luke in the 2nz came home in a handy 5th spot from his grid 12 start, Bunter in 1nz won from his grid 1 start and the biggest movers in the race were 31s Farron Lowry (7th from grid 17) and Jacko (10th from grid 18).

Heat 2 and this had to be our “moving day” race. A grid 20 start with our main opposition all starting from in front of us. Bunter from 11. Luke from 2, Farron from 7 and Jacko from 8. We figured that a top 6 spot would go along way to taking the title and we hoped for a bit of luck with a few yellows in the race to close things up and give us some opportunities. Foxy drove a blinder but unfortunately for us the racing went from go to whoa without incident and there were no cautions! Foxy made some good passes on good cars and came home in 11th place. Luke won from his grid 2 start. Jacko was 4th, Farron 5th and Bunter 6th. She was hard work!!

Heading into heat 3 we still thought we had a shot. We had a grid 2 start and were sitting 4th on points. Luke was leading the points with 36, Bunter was 2nd with 35 points, Farron was 3rd with 30 points and then there was Foxy, Jacko, Merv in 72s and Neil in 6s tied on 28 points.

Luke had to leave from grid 17, Bunter from 20, Farron from 7, Jacko from 5, Merv from 11 and Neil in 6s from grid 16. Luke needed to finish better than 8th assuming Foxy won the race to win the title, Bunter would need better than 7th and Farron at least 2nd. None of this was going to be easy given the conditions of the track.

The race started as we hoped with Foxy jumping out to the lead and he quickly started putting significant space between him and the rest. Luke had the misfortune of sustaining front end damage in the first lap which was hampering his progress forward; Bunter too looked to be struggling. As the race settled down the main focus for us was the battle between Jacko and Bunter for 3rd. Foxy was off ahead in the distance and Brian McPhee in the 5w car was comfortable sitting in 2nd. Luke was running 12th and Bunter 13th respectively. This is the way it stayed until lap 15 of the 20 lap race. Luke due to his damage couldn’t put any pressure on the 12s of Jason Kalin running ahead of him and Bunter couldn’t get past Luke. Jacko was keeping Farron at bay and 77s Craig Ward was running a comfortable 5th from his grid 3 start. Foxy was looking good, in fact he was into lapping cars and was coming around to put both Bunter and Luke a lap down.

Here is where it goes pear shaped, coming off turn 1 on lap 16 the 3nz car of Dan Rae had a spin and was sitting half on and half off the track, he kept the car running and got out of the way just as the yellow was thrown. When the cars started reforming up for the restart the officials instructed Craig Ward to go to the back of the field, Craig refused and stopped asking the infield official why? He was no where near the cause of the yellow and was comfortable sitting in 5th position on the track. They said he hadn’t been lap scored in that position and that they had him further down, he told them they were wrong and refused to go to the back. Lap after lap after lap ensued while I assume they tried to figure out what was going on. Again the blackboard came out and again Craig stopped and told them they were wrong, he said he should be allowed to start where he believed he was running (and everyone else apart from SNZ in the arena) and that is should be sorted out after the race. They refused and told him to go to the rear or he was off. Craig then had little choice and reluctantly went to the rear. This moved all the cars behind him WRONGLY up one place.

When we eventually got under way again Foxy once again pulled out to a commanding lead and we were left watching what was going to unfold behind. Laps were running down and guys in contention started playing rough, Farron and Jacko had a coming together that I must admit I did not see and in this melee somehow Bunter ended up with damage along with Farron ending their chances. All of this played into Luke’s hands and without passing a car he found himself running in 8th on the track but under intense pressure from Craig Ward in the 77s machine who had made his way back forward from the rear, unfortunately for us laps ran out before Craig could make a pass on Luke to push him back a place.

On returning to the pits Craig Ward went straight to the officials to protest the decision to put him to the rear, I also made Foxy go up and protest as it meant that instead of Foxy and Luke being tied on points requiring a run off, Luke would win by the 1 point. At the same time as all this going on there was tension around due to the Farron / Jacko on track issue that the officials were trying to work out and they seemed more interested in sorting this out than acknowledging there was an issue impacting on 1st and 2nd that needed to be sorted.

We have never protested anything in over 25 years of racing and it is disappointing that we have to start now but the reality is that they got it so, so wrong and someone needs to stand up and take responsibility. No SNZ official at the meeting seemed prepared to do so and they were all running for cover hoping it would go away, they even tried the old “your to late as 10 minutes have past” trick on protesting official results. There are many questions that need to be answered with regard this meeting and we want answers. This is the New Zealand Champs not a club night!

I notice that the ill-informed, tall poppy knockers have started up on Macgors with regard my postings on the issue on the discussion board and I want to make a couple of things clear. My reason for posting a comment on the board initially was to advise people that had bet on Foxy at the TAB (to take the win) they should hold their tickets and not throw them away as we intend to protest the result, this was all. Barry B has since advised that the fact that we are doing this will not impact on the TAB payout due to the way they set the rules around gambling on the event so unfortunately what we are doing will not help these people. Since then many have gone on the board saying we should just get over it and inferring we are bad losers. This is far from the case. We congratulated both Luke and Jacko on the night for their results like we always do; they both did very well and should be proud of their achievements. Our actions are not aimed at Luke as we have huge respect for him, our actions are aimed at the SNZ running of the event and the decisions their officials took on the night that robbed us of the opportunity to win the title. Would we have beaten Luke in a run off?? Who knows but we earned the right to contest one.

We believe we have sufficient grounds for the result / decisions to be reviewed by SNZ and we owe it to ourselves and our sponsors to follow this path. Financial impact aside (winning is worth $1000.00 more than 2nd) it is the principle that we are fighting. If we don’t follow this through and identify what went wrong so changes to process etc can be made what is to stop something like this happening again to someone else?? What is the catalyst for change with process / SNZ accountability if every time an issue like this arises the victim just takes it on the chin and the issue is swept under the table?? I will tell you that there isn’t one and therefore mistakes will continue to happen.

For all you keyboard racers out there who feel we should just pull our heads in I ask you this. The NZ champs to the drivers in all classes is the pinnacle of our season and what we all strive for, anyone that witnessed the emotional interview last night with Shane Penn on what it meant to him to win the Superstock title can attest to this. It is the equivalent in our sport to one of the majors in golf, do you think if Tiger was shafted by one point in a golf major he would just accept it and move on? I don’t think so.

I won’t be commenting on the issue anymore on Macgors, I will leave this to the more informed and obviously more forgiving members to do and they can continue to take digs and cheap shots at me and / or Foxy all they want. We will leave our comments on the issue to this website and will keep people informed as to what is happening. Hopefully SNZ are proactive and get involved in this issue without waiting for official protests but I kinda think that may be a bit optimistic but we will give them a few days to review the issue before deciding on progressing with a formal official protest or not. Craig Ward has already indicated he will be protesting the result for his reasons and one can hardly blame him. SNZ may be able to save themselves a lot of aggravation by looking into what happened and talking to Foxy as quickly as possible. Where all this leads to I have no idea but time will tell and in the meantime we will continue to campaign under the 11a designation as doing anything else doesn’t feel right.

As a starter for 10 here are some basic questions that SNZ may want to consider looking into about the running of the meeting.

1/ Why was the durometer used by SNZ officials on the night faulty? When was it last calibrated?

2/ Why were engines not checked at the meeting with the puffer to make sure that all were legal?

3/ Why were cars not weighed on night 2?

4/ Why were the leading cars quarantined after the last race, people told not to touch them and then left there for over 2 hours without any SNZ official even coming near them to check anything or do final inspection?

5/ If the cars were supposed to be left with no people around them why wasn’t an area cordoned off so people couldn’t touch them instead of just dumping them in a paddock and allowing every man and his dog to move around them freely?

6/ Why was an announcement made that the confirmed final heat 2 official results were on the board prior to heat 3 and then as the guys were coming in after heat 3 another announcement was made that revised confirmed final heat 2 official results were now on the board?

7/ Why did one red cap agree that 77s was running 5th on the track for the restart then get over ruled by another red cap and sent to the back of the field?

8/ If electronic lap scoring was the reason for the confusion why didn’t officials revert to the manual lap scoring back up to confirm restart positions? Was there actually a manual lap scoring backup carried out?

9/ Why wasn’t the driver (Craig Ward) given the benefit of the doubt and allowed to restart where he rightly believed he was running? If he ended up being wrong he could always have been penalized on returning to the pits! Given the importance of the decision and knowing that it could impact the final result surely this was the logical thing to do?

Don’t forget Dirt Cup this week folks and a quality field is expected.



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