What a weekend!
Team Fox headed down to Wellington to try and defend our North Island modified title at the weekend and try to set a little piece of history along the way. Win and Foxy would not only be the first driver to record a hat trick of wins in the event but he would also take sole charge of the most wins. Leading into the weekend he was tied with Murray Gordge on 5 North Island titles and we wanted # 6!
A disappointing field of 11 fronted on the night with 5w and 71s being two late withdrawals. Now from the outside looking in it would be easy to think that with only 11 cars the event would be a doddle for Foxy but when you have guys like Bunter, Farron, Blair and a few others in the field it is never going to be easy. To be honest it is sometimes harder to win events with small fields than it is in big fields simply because the pace is hotter and passing opportunities are scarce once everyone gets up to speed.
Foxy drew grid 8 for heat one and this meant that we would be off grid 3 and grid 7 for the remaining 2 heats of the standard 3 heat format deal. Highest points after 3 heats would be deemed the winner.
77s and 67s filled the front row on heat 1 with Blair in the 9w leaving from grid 3. All the guys we expected to be fighting with for the title started in front of us so we knew we had some work to do. The race got away clean but it wasn’t long until drama kicked in. Foxy was pressuring Farron in the 31s machine and Farron half spun going through turn 1 causing Foxy to have to take evasive action. This had a domino effect and Michael Burt in the 8w machine had no where to go and plowed straight into the back of the car badly damaging both the wing and (up until this meeting) the immaculate Anglia body!! Bugger!! Luckily the damage was mainly superficial and we were able to restart. Interestingly no one was deemed to be the cause of the incident and everyone was allowed to restart back in their positions they were in before the orange light. Back to green for a while but it wasn’t long before we had another huge pileup and this one was more damaging as it took out one of the hot favorites in Blair (the 9w machine) and 77s Jacob Ward. Back to green and Foxy spent the rest of the race trying to find a way past Farron in the 31s machine but to no avail. We come home in 3rd behind Bunter who won the race and Farron, Not a bad result from our rear starting position but the car wasn’t quite right so changes were needed.
Heat 2 and we were off grid 3. We had a gap in front of us as the pole sitter was missing. Jason in 12s was leaving from grid 2. Bit of a drag race at the start to try and get under Jason heading into turn 1 and it looked like Foxy got squeezed up onto the pole line. A 50/50 call really as Foxy looked to be cleanly under Jason at the end of the straight but Jason closed back down on him forcing Foxy to ride the left front up on the poleline. Coming off turn 2 and Foxy was away in the lead and even after a few restarts for on track accidents again Foxy was never really challenged for the lead. Car was better but still not right as others looked quicker in the closing laps.
Heading into the deciding heat 3 Foxy and Bunter were tied on points (both with a win and a 3rd) and starting next to each other on grids 7 and 8. 2 points back was Farron in the 31s machine and he was leaving from grid 2. To be honest given the carnage from the first 2 heats Farron never really stood a chance of winning the title as there were simply not enough cars in between him and the other 2. There were cars missing all through the starting grid. Bunter got the best of the first attempted start but it was deemed a false start and we tried again. On the second attempt Foxy got the best start and was soon pressuring Jonas in the 17w machine for 2nd. Bunter was on Foxy’s bumper. A small mistake by Jonas through turn 2 allowed Foxy the room he needed to make the pass and put a car between him and Bunter. Advantage Foxy. Things evened out for a lap or two as Foxy chased down Farron who was the race leader and Bunter tried everything he could to find a way past Jonas. After a couple of laps Foxy was on Farron and after a couple of looks at getting under him he decided the best (but a little riskier) option was to try to drive around him through turn 3& 4. Trick would be to make sure he was far enough along side to make sure Farron couldn’t slide up off the turn because if this happened then Foxy would be fired into the concrete! Luckily the move stuck and Foxy powered around the outside to the lead. Once in front he waltzed away to a convincing win leaving the other guys to scrap it out for the minor placings.
The changes we made to the car for the last heat were perfect and we now have a great set up starting position given the NZ title is in Wellington next year.
Foxy is really starting to tick off all sorts of records this season. I suppose it is expected if you run in a class for the guts of 30 years! He now holds the record for the most wins in the SNZ North Island title. He has now clocked up 29 podiums in SNZ sanctioned title events which is the most by anyone who has ever raced in the class. (Roger Bertram finished with 27 and Murray with 22). He has had 11 podiums in the North Island title alone (6 wins and 5 2nds). He has had 10 podiums at the NZGP (only 1 win but 6 x 2nds and 3 x 3rds). There are also 8 podiums in the NZ title (3 x wins, 2 x 2nds and 3 x 3rds). Throw in 7 Dirt Cup victories and 8 Auckland titles (not to mention numerous other regional titles) and it all become pretty mindboggling to be honest.
The aspect we are most proud of is that we are still competitive. If we weren’t we would pull the pin. There are a lot of new young faces popping up in the class now and these young guys have no fear and are not overawed by the reputations of the older guys. They don’t give an inch and that is the way it should be. To still be running up at the front of the field with the fast guys is fantastic and when the time comes that we are not, this will be the time to give it away. That time is not here yet so I suppose that means we will need to run next season!
Next meeting for Team Fox is March 7th. This is night 2 of the Teams Nationals and we have the Auckland Modified Champs playing support. We are defending champions and going for Auckland title #9. Pretty sure 8 is already a record but who’s counting!!
Our race calendar after this event is a little more subdued. We have agreed to attend the Rusty Memorial meeting that Bunter is arranging in Stratty on March 28th. Least we can do for a great guy and a fellow modified man! Hopefully a few more Auckland guys will venture down as well. We are not attending Easter at Rotorua this year as Foxy turns 50 that weekend and is travelling overseas to celebrate. We will run after Easter weekend though at both the KOP meeting at Waikaraka and then finish off at Huntly for the Speedfest meeting. By my reckoning that makes about only 4 more meeting for us this season so if you haven’t seen Foxy run this year and want to you had better schedule in one of the above mentioned meetings.
See you on the 7th March!