No KOP Out!
As you will all know by now, Easter at Vegas was a non starter this year due to the weather. Luckily for us Karen and the good people at the Braeside in Rotorua were able to move our rooms on even with the short notice so this saved us the unnecessary cost of unneeded accommodation. Thanks guys, it was really appreciated!!
This meant that we had one event left to tick off and we ended our 2013/14 race season on Saturday at Waikaraka’s annual King of the Park meeting.
We weren’t optimistic with regard to numbers as they have been pretty poor all season. We knew visitors were unlikely given the stage of the season so given our expectations were low we were not surprised when only 6 cars fronted for the season finale. Guys to front were 9a, 11a, 18r, 19a, 36a and 78a. Format was simple with a small twist. 2 x 8 lap heat races for points (marbledraw and reverse) and then highest points scorer would redraw again to set grids for the 15 lap final title race. Draw 1 and the field would line up with fastest from the front (highest points would have lane choice) but draw 6 and highest points scorer would need to start rear of the field with the rest inverted as well. Seemed a tad unfair given you could do most of the work in the heats and still need to start from the rear in the one race that mattered! Given we only had 6 cars we weren’t overly concerned.
Foxy drew grid 2 for heat 1 and this gave us grid 5 for heat 2. Little to report on heat 1 as Foxy won the start and simply drove away from the field winning by over half a lap. Heat 2 had some interest as 9a started off the front row and shot away from the start. Foxy got stuck in a 3 way scrap with 18r and 19a. With PJ and Scotty fighting out track position, Foxy got stuck in limbo a little as these two guys were taking up the whole track in a ding dong battle! Scotty finally found a way past PJ and Foxy followed him through. By now 9a was off in the distance and with laps running down the best we could hope for was a 2nd placing if Foxy could find a way past Scotty. These two fought it out over the remaining laps and Foxy was able to muscle his way under Scotty going through turns 3 and 4 on the last lap to take 2nd and make sure of being the top points qualifier.
By now there wasn’t a lot on offer from the track so passing wasn’t going to be easy. The format dictated we draw a marble as indicated above and we left this unenviable task to my son Nick. Foxy didn’t want a bar of it! Ha!! Nick umm’d and arrh’d for a moment and then closed and eyes and picked. Luckily for us it was marble 1 so Foxy had choice of starting position on the front row. No surprise when he chose grid 2. In a repeat of our last event at Waikaraka (North Island’s) 9a was going to leave from grid 1. Foxy didn’t want to allow him to win the start this time given the race was only 15 laps and not 25.
In the end it was a bit of a non event with Foxy easily winning the start and once again he drove away from the field. At about mid distance we got a yellow as Ray in the 78a machine had issues. Foxy had already built up over half a lap lead and this evaporated. On the restart Foxy once again drove away and left the rest to fight over 2nd. Scotty was hooking up nicely and he found a way past the 9a machine late in the race to cement 2nd.
There we have it folks, not a great spectacle given the numbers we had but it was what it was and it is always nice to win no matter how many turn up! Good to end the season on a run off positive results.
It has been an average season for us by our standards. As most will know we have now run 2 condensed seasons in a row to get 2 years out of one engine rebuild. This has meant we have only done the equivalent of one normal full seasons racing over the last 2 seasons. In some ways we have paid the price a little with lack of seat time and we noticed this most at the NZ Champs meeting. Heading into the nationals we had only done 3 meetings and two of these were with small fields of between 6-10 cars. This isn’t ideal for anyone and it showed with us under performing on the biggest night of the year.
Having such a dismal run in Christchurch it refocused the team and we made changes that really made a difference. Our performances since then have been more akin to what we expect from ourselves. Since the NZ’s we have contested at, and won, the BOP Champs in Rotorua, 30 lapper in Whangarei, 3 wins from 3 starts at a clubnight at Waikaraka, Akl Champs at Waikaraka, North Island Champs at Waikaraka and the KOP event at Waikaraka in the weekend just gone. Add in a 2nd at the NZGP in Rotorua and an unlucky 2nd at this year’s Dirt Cup when the diff seal let go while leading and with only 2 laps to go then that is a great haul of results from the 8 meetings we have done since January. By most peoples standards this is a successful season.
The team are motivated to do a full race schedule this coming season and with the 2 biggest events for mods both being contested at Waikaraka we will concentrate on running at home as much as possible. We will be keen to win Dirt Cup #7 and we will be going all out to try to win 1nz title #4. We have never won it in all our attempts in Auckland and it is on the bucket list to do before we give it up. It could be our last chance.
No new major upgrades are being considered but we will be giving the engine a long overdue birthday and a bit of a tickle up. We expect the numbers in Auckland to really jump for the next season with the champs at home and early indications are that we could have upwards of 12-15 cars running at the start of the season. Rumors abound of new cars being built for two of the guys that ran on Saturday and I know of at least one other guy coming back to the sport in a new car after a year off. The guys we lost during the season due to one reason or another have all indicated they will be back as have all the guys still running now. Also expect to see 1 or 2 new younger faces in the class and if this happens it is fantastic. All this will be great for the local scene and the class in general.
Stratty numbers are expected to also bounce back next year with the return of both Jacko and Merv after a year off. After talking to Jacko at the weekend he is fizzing and looking forward to getting back into it. Wgtn numbers are expected to stay pretty much the same and numbers continue to grow in the South Island given the extra $$ around down there due to the rebuild. A few of the guys are expecting to front in new machinery and all eyes will be on Luke in the new #1nz Lovelady machine currently being built. Word has it that it is that is a little different and designed around the fact that we pretty much run on slick tracks now everywhere week in and week out. Highly unlikely that the clubs are going to do anything different so their logic seems sound!
All this will make for a fascinating 2014/15 season and remember if you like the mods then Auckland will be the place to be for consecutive weekends in late January for the NZ title / Dirt Cup double header!
See you next season and take it easy out there!