No walk in the park Akl Champs
Meeting #10 for team Fox. Auckland Champs.
After all the dramas off the track in the last few weeks it felt good to actually be back doing something we enjoy…. Racing!
Saturday night had us back at Waikaraka for only the 3rd time this season. We were on the undercard for the annual Teams Nationals but in our eyes the event we were competiting in was just as important, the Auckland Modified Champs. Foxy had won this title 6 times and was trying for win number 7.
Cars in attendance were 1nza, 6a, 18r, 19a, 21a, 36a, 55s, 64a, 78a, 86a, 97a, 105a. The 12 cars were split into 2 groups of 6 and each group contested 2 x 8 lap heat races for points. Highest points across the groups got lane choice for the 15 lap title race.
The format chosen for the night wasn’t ideal as a spectacle for the crowd. Having 4 x 6 car heat races gave the crowd very little to get excited about and with the format resulting in a likely situation of the fast guys off the front for the feature, it would mean that even when the field came together for the final, there would be little passing. Unfortunately this proved to the case. Foxy passed the grand total of 5 cars all night for position and most of these were in the push and shove at the start of the race.
Foxy drew group 2 along with 6a, 21a, 36a, 78a and 97a. We drew grid 3 for heat 1 and grid 4 for heat 2. It is fair to say that we had a lot of luck in these two heat races. In our first one the track was still slippery in places meaning it was pretty much a one lane track. Most of the race we were running in 3rd behind 78a and 21a and it wasn’t until 21a made a small mistake exiting turn 4 on the run down to get the white flag that we got the opportunity to pass him and close in on Ray in the 78a machine. Heading into turn 3 on the last lap Foxy was able to get his nose under Ray and complete the pass coming off turn 4 / run down to the chequered flag. Foxy winning by a nose.
Heat 2 we were even luckier. Heading down the main straight to complete the first lap Brian in the 6a and Crumpy in the 36a machine had a little coming together which caused BJ to half spin, Foxy who was right on BJ’s bumper had no where to go and collected BJ pretty hard. The result was Foxy hitting the lead of the race but receiving a broken LF shock, bent brake rotor and hub along the way. While BJ sat half on and half off the track the rest of the cars completed the lap and were heading down the back straight on lap 2 when the yellow was thrown. BJ didn’t get the rub of the green in this situation as although the incident clearly happened before the completion of the 1st lap, the yellow wasn’t forthcoming until the rest of the field had passed the start finish line and were on their 2nd lap. This meant no complete restart and to compound the issues for BJ he was sent to the rear of the field as prime cause of the yellow. Pretty harsh really and although you could argue that the refs followed the rule as set out in the rulebook, it seemed unfair,
While the guys were circulating around waiting for the restart, Foxy drove over to the pit stand for us to have a “best look” at the damage and indicate to him if he should pull off or power on. We could see that the damage looked to be just the L/F shock so we indicated to him to carry on. We knew the car would be a handful but he had track position and we doubted he would make the damage any worse by continuing. On the restart Foxy drove some of the ugliest laps in his career; he was however somehow able to keep up a reasonable pace (his lap times were actually the same as Scotty’s from his win in the race before). The car was only really an issue when you got off the gas going into the turns but as long as you managed it well and kept forward momentum it wasn’t too bad. Anyway, it wasn’t long until both the 21a and 6a machines hauled him in and for the last 3-4 laps they tried to find a way past a crippled Foxy to no avail as he was able to keep the car tightly down on the poleline off the turns. This was one of Foxy’s hardest wins, it wasn’t pretty but we will take it.
On returning to the pits we went about repairing the damage and with 2 wins from 2 starts making us top point’s scorer across the groups, Foxy chose to leave from grid 2 for the trophy race. Scotty in the 19a rocketship had scored a win and a 2nd in the other group and he lined up on grid 1. Plan was simple, win the start and control the race. The track is toast at the moment at the park and passing is near on impossible no matter how good you are. The first try to get underway was aborted when 55s and 64a came together resulting in front end damage on the 64a machine. On the 2nd attempt Foxy was able to get his nose in front heading into turn 1 and from that point on it was pretty much done and dusted (dusted being the optimum word here given the amount of dust being kicked up!). Foxy went on to win the race and claim his 7th Auckland Champs title. Scotty drove well all night to claim 2nd and Gary Parker in the 21a machine had a strong night and showed good car speed to claim 3rd.
This is pretty much it for us this season in the North Island. This was only our third run at our home track of Waikaraka Park this season and our strike rate here was pretty good. From 9 race starts we enjoyed 7 wins, 1 x 2nd and 1 x 6th (from a grid 16 start). These results exclude the pole shuffles from the Dirt Cup which were all won. Not to bad!! Throw in Dirt Cup title number 6 and Auckland Champs title number 7 and we couldn’t expect any more.
Our last scheduled event for the season is the Modified Invasion down to run over 2 nights on Easter weekend in Christchurch, we are looking forward to it. We have heard through the grapevine that Luke suffered engine issues at the South Island champs last weekend but hopefully they will get something sorted that will enable him to make the start line so that the season long battle between he and Foxy can continue. We are picking we will have a torrid time down south but are using the trip as an opportunity to try a few things that may help us when we head down next season for the NZ Champs. The last time we visited the Glen we came away pretty happy so with a bit of luck we will do likewise again. Mod numbers in Christchurch are surging and there is some real talent coming through so we don’t expect as easy a ride as we had it the last time we ventured down. Hopefully the weather plays the game and holds up until then so lock those dates in people and we will se you on the mainland! We promise not to mention the rugby!!