2013 "Dusty Cup"
Saturday had the best mods in the country converge on Waikaraka Park for the 22nd running of the Dirt Cup. 26 of the 27 originally entered fronted and I really want to thank the guys who made the trek up from Christchurch, Wellington and Stratford. Without them all it wouldn’t have been a show.
Given we are only a week after the NZ Champs in Stratty, the turnout was exceptional, in fact we had more cars than the NZ title itself!
Format was a bit different this year. It was the one I wanted to do last year but car numbers last year didn’t allow it. The cars were split into 3 even groups and each group contested 2 of the 3 heat races for points. Each car had a front and a rear start, each car had an inside and an outside start and each car got to race every other car in at least 1 race. Can’t get much fairer than that!!
The Dirt Cup is known as a hard meeting from whoa to go and this year’s was no difference. The heats themselves had 18 cars in them and went for 16 laps and this is before you get to the 30 lapper final!
All in all I think it worked out pretty good, it took the drivers and the public a bit of time to understand the format but, when people finally worked it out, they all seemed to agree it was a great format. In hindsight having the format outlined in the program instead of just relying on the commentators to explain it to the public would have been helpful, lesson learned for next year. The drivers? Well they had no excuse not to know how it worked as they have all had the entry forms for weeks so should have read them! Ha!!
Foxy was seeded in group 2 and this meant he would be out in heat 1 and heat 3. He drew his rear start in heat 1 and left from grid 16. Only good thing about this was that Luke Keegan drew even worse and started from grid 17! Heat 1 was a torrid race on a track that wasn’t quite ready to be raced on. It really was the first real race of the night and was a bit heavy at the start. A good start quickly turned sour when the 31s car half spun and Foxy got together with him a little allowing Luke to round them both on the outside. Foxy bit his lip and keep chasing Luke and when Luke ran out of tearoffs later in the race it caused him enough of an issue to allow Foxy the opportunity to re-pass him for position. After 16 hard laps Foxy had worked his way up to 6th with Luke one place back in 7th. Finishing order of top 10 was 55s, 67s, 17w, 6a, 5w, 11a, 1nz, 31s, 4c and 21a.
Heat 2 we were not in and we didn’t get a chance to watch as we were working on the car getting it ready for heat 3. Finishing order of top 10 was 1nz, 3nz, 19a, 67s, 21a, 6a, 77s, 13c, 9w and 17w.
Heat 3 and it was our turn for a start near the front, grid 3. We knew heading in that Luke had won heat 2 so for Foxy to finish in front of him on points he would need to win the race. On the start Foxy quickly moved into 2nd behind the 77s machine of Craig Ward. It took Foxy a few laps but eventually he found a way past and pulled out to a commanding lead. All the action was happening behind him with cars pulling out left right and centre. Foxy held on to the end and banked maximum points. Finishing order of top 10 was 11a, 31s, 77s, 16s, 13c, 55s, 36a, 72s, 4c and 9w.
When I totaled the points up after heat 3 I must admit to being a bit surprised that we hadn’t ended up as top qualifier, this honor went to 67s Bunter Pierce with a 2nd and a 4th from his two heats. Bunter’s tally of 32 points was one better than Foxy’s and Paul Ward in 55s who had both had a 1st and a 6th giving them 31 points. Next was the 1nz of Luke Keegan with 30 points (a 1st and a 7th) and then we had 3 tied on 28 points (6a, 77s and 31s). This meant we had a 7 car pole shuffle situation (more about this later).
At the other end of the scale we had a few guys still to find by way of repercharge for the final 30 lapper. 7 guys lined up for this and they were fighting for the last 4 spots. Drama ensued in this one when 64a lost the plot a little and attempted the big slide-job on the guys running 1st and 2nd on the track, suffice to say it ended in tears and although 36a and 64a were able to continue the 78a machine of Ray Chatfield sustained damage that put him out and 64a was sent to the rear of the field. Ray was not a happy camper and rightfully so. The race went smooth after this restart and as they crossed the line the final 4 were 36a, 8a, 18r and 64a. 64s was disqualified after the race and 105a was promoted to the lucky last qualifier position.
As mentioned above we had 7 cars sorted for the pole shuffle. First out was 6a vs 77s with BJ in the 6a car having lane choice. He chose grid 2 and went on to win shuffle #1. Shuffle #2 was 6a vs 31s and BJ made it 2 from 2 taking out this one as well. Shuffle #3 was 6a vs 1nz and Luke chose to start from the inside line, he won the start and advanced to the next stage. Shuffle #4 was 1nz vs 11a with Foxy having lane choice (coin toss was done between 55s and 11a to see who would go first and Foxy lost). Foxy decided on grid 2 to maximise the advantage of being the pacesetter. The first attempt to get away was called back after Luke was deemed to have jumped the start. 2nd time they got away clean and Foxy got his nose in front into turn 1. From that point on Foxy dominated the shuffle and won to go through to the next round. Shuffle #5 was 11a vs 55s. Paul chose grid 2. Foxy won the start and went on to win moving him into the final showdown. Shuffle #6 11a vs 67s. Bunter chose grid 2 but Foxy won the start. Bunter chased for the first lap but conceded on lap 2 and Foxy came home winning the pole shuffle part of the night. Interesting to note that Foxy was the only car to get into the 14 second band all night and did this in each of the last 3 shuffles. Foxy duly chose to start from grid 2 for the 30 lap final.
On returning to the pits we went about making our changes to the car. The car was set up for the 2nd half of the race as we know from history that this is when these races are won or lost (no point having a rocketship for the first 15 laps and then struggle in the last 15 laps!). New rubber was bolted on the right rear but we opted for an older left rear. The plan was simple, win the start and then stay in front the whole race (at least this sounded like a good plan), all this was turned on its head when Bunter in the 67s machine got a great start and led into the first corner with Foxy and then Luke following in behind. Bunter had a great car at the start of this race and Foxy and Luke seemed to be struggling to stay with him. Lapped traffic came into play really early and by about lap 7 or 8 all 3 were in amongst the back markers. At this stage both Foxy and Luke started to close the gap on Bunter. Heading out of turn 2 on lap 12 Bunter got tangled up with 36a Phil Crumpe while trying to put Phil a lap down and this resulted in Bunter picking up a flat right front, ending his night. This was really bad luck for Bunter as he was looking good and it would have been interesting to see if his car would have been good enough in the later part of the race. Bunter’s misfortune was Foxy’s good fortune and he inherited the lead at the restart. Once they got underway again Foxy was able to pull out to a 5-6 car length lead over Luke and, while these two cleared away from the remaining pack, the gap between the two really never changed. Another couple of incidents resulted in restarts and it was pretty much a carbon copy each time. Foxy would eek out a lead and then the gap would remain stable. The last 5 laps seemed to last forever and it looked like Luke’s car was starting to work a little better than Foxy’s but Foxy used the backmarkers well and didn’t allow himself to get held up at any stage lapping these guys. By race end Foxy had it by about 3-4 car lengths from Luke and then there was about ½ a lap back to Paul Ward in the 55s machine who finished 3rd.
This is Dirt Cup title #6 for Foxy and it is one we have been chasing for a while now. It is nice to see Foxy win at least once in the 3 years I been sponsoring it (also makes it cheaper for me which I am pretty happy about!). Congrats to Luke for taking 2nd spot and having a record of 2 wins and a 2nd in the last 3 Dirt Cup events is pretty amazing. Also to Paul Ward in the 55s machine well done mate, after last weeks massive crash in Stratty it was amazing you guys even made it to the event but just goes to show you that effort is rewarded sometimes. Good on ya!
To Bruce and the team at the park, thanks guys and gals, Sure there were a few issues (when aren’t there!) but all in all it was a great night and what is important for this event to survive is that most of the drivers went away happy and willing to support the event again in the future. I am sure lessons will be learnt from where things need to improve and the event will be all the better for it.
Thanks must go to Roger at CSL Containers, Brian from BDC Engineering and Robbie from STL Linehaul for their continued support of the team and it was great having you all at the track to see the event. Big ups to Roger for throwing a bar tab down for the boys after as well!!
Team Fox has a weeks break now and the next outing for us is the NZGP event in Wellington on Feb 2nd where we will be trying to defend our title won last year. After this we will be at Palmy for night 2 of the Teams Champs (Feb 9th) where we will be trying to defend our Manawatu Champ title also won last season. Unfortunately work commitments mean we can’t attend the Mod Invasion meeting in Wellington on Feb 6th (midweek event) but with guys hanging around from the GP meet from the SI I am sure we won’t be missed.
After these two meetings Team Fox will be taking a long break from the track and at this stage we are not due to run again until March 9th back at home to try and defend our Auckland Champ title. After this there is a decision to make about where we will run at Easter and then we are done. This means at most we have about 4-5 meets left this season so if you want to see Foxy race you better lock in one of these dates.
See you in Wellington Feb 2nd!!