| Waikato Champs 02/12/06
Before I go on to the report from Saturday night I would like to take the opportunity to pass on our sincerest condolences to Frank Irvine and the family of Janice Dresden. Janice passed away on Friday after a long illness and it is important we all acknowledge her contribution to making Waikaraka Park what it is today. Without her and Franks assistance a few years back, when the club was in financial trouble, there would be no Waikaraka Park. All Auckland stockcar fans owe Janice a huge amount and she will be sadly missed. Hopefully some sort of remembrance event can be looked at in her honour at the park as it would be a fitting gesture.
Rest in peace Janice, from Foxy, Anne and the crew of 11a Modified.
Right, Saturday saw us at Huntly Speedway trying to defend our Waikato Champs title. A disappointing field of 10 cars showed up for the meeting but it was not really a great surprise to us as we had heard during the week that the numbers would be low. The track breakdown was as follows. 3 from Stratford (55s, 71s and 77s), 3 from Auckland (6a, 11a and 56a), 1 from Rotorua (18r) and 3 locals (66h, 96h and 97h).
Now before people start getting stuck into Auckland for running mods on the same night it is important to note that the promoters at Huntly requested we only send 4 cars maximum to the meeting as their initial numbers suggested that was all they could accommodate. This is why the mods were added to the program for Waikaraka on Saturday night. For various reasons, some legit and some not, guys that were expected to front didn't and this resulted in the field being only 10 strong instead of 16. Situations like this need to be avoided as it reflects badly on the promotions and the drivers. Some of the excuses bandied about for no shows are pathetic in all honesty, we even heard about one driver who is apparently avoiding running against Foxy until nearer to the champs because he dosen't want us to see how quick he is! If this rumour is true it is disappointing, not to mention laughable.
Anyway race 1 had us starting from grid 4 behind 66h Chris Picknell. Chris got a good start and Foxy quickly moved up to 2nd. Chris knew that Foxy was behind him and was pretty determined he wasn't going to make it easy for him to get passed. I think it is fair to say that Chris was right on the limit and was driving like a man possessed. A couple of times coming into turn 3 he was close to turning the car around so Foxy made the decision to sit back for a while and wait for traffic to come into the mix. The first car that Chris caught up to was the 18r car of Dennis Hansen. I am unsure if the fact that Chris knew that Foxy was on his bumper pressured him into taking a big dive at Dennis or not but whatever was going on in this head resulted in him riding over the right rear of Dennis's car sending Chris into a spectacular series of rolls that had him end up in the wall. Luckily Chris was ok but the car is looking mighty second hand.
This incident resulted in Foxy inheriting the lead, which he held to the flag. Big movers in this race were 77s Craig Ward and 6a Brian Jesen who both finished near the front from rear gridstarts.
Heat 2 had us leaving from grid 9 and with a lot of work to do if we wanted a chance at the title. The track had now gone off badly and it proved to be impossible to make inroads with the set-up we had. As the race progressed we managed to get past a few of the slower guys but got caught up behind 55s Paul Ward. He did an excellent job “flexing those elbows” of his and try as Foxy might he couldn't make a pass as we just couldn't get any drive coming off the turns. This race pretty much became a follow the leader race with Craig winning from grid 1 and no one else really making any significant progress, us included. Foxy came home in a disappointing 6th.
Heading into heat 3 we believed we were racing for 2nd as Craig had a healthy 4 point lead over us. We had a grid 4 start again and Craig was grid 7. There were some good cars in between us and all we could hope for was to win the race and hope that Craig struggled, like we had, to pass on the track. Craig was by no means the only guy in with a shot as 6a Brian Jesen also had a one point lead on us and was leaving from grid 3. Paul Blakeley also had a chance, as he was on level points with us but starting nearer the back.
As we badly missed the set-up for heat 2 we made some significant changes to the car for the 3rd heat. With 55s Paul Ward off grid 1 we would need to be able to pass him on the outside as he would be determined to guard the poleline. Some crafty work by Paul at the start saw him lean on 18r Dennis Hansen pushing him wide on the track. Dennis is new to the sport so didn't argue the point with Paul and this resulted in Foxy having to go extra wide to get around Dennis at the start of the race. With Foxy having to go so wide both Paul and Brian where able to power away on the inside leaving Foxy running 3rd. The changes we made to the car made a massive difference and unlike the 2nd heat Foxy was able to commit to the outside line and make passes stick. He quickly moved past Brian and started to give chase to Paul. As we expected Paul was hugging the poleline like his life depended on it so Foxy quickly dove to the outside of turn 1 and was able to complete the pass exiting turn 2. This probably surprised Paul a bit but to be fair the car was a completely different car to that in the 2nd heat and it wasn't long before Foxy had opened up a healthy lead.
With the first part of the plan completed we started to keep an eye on Craig's progress from the rear. He was finding it difficult as we expected but as the other guys made mistakes and slipped off the poleline, Craig was there to pounce and slowly started to pick the guys off on the inside line. By the end of the race Craig had managed to move up to 3rd which we thought was good enough to take the title. What we were unaware of was that Craig had been called up to the referee after the race for allegedly passing with a wheel on the infield. We hadn't witnessed this so can't really comment. This resulted in Craig being relegated 2 spots, which put him in a tie for 1st with Foxy.
As we were unaware of all this going on, by the time they called us up to the dummy grid for a runoff we had all ready loaded the car up so Craig and Foxy decided to call the event a tie and share the title. To be fair after our 2nd heat debacle we felt we didn't deserve to win the title so would have felt bad if we had managed to win a runoff with Craig if one had been held. Brian Jesen drove consistently all night to come home 3rd.
All in all a great night of racing on a demanding track. Running in small fields can be harder than running in big fields as traffic dosen't play such a big part and the pace is generally quicker. There is very little between Craig and Foxy at the moment with neither guy being in a position to pressure the other in any of the meetings we have met at. We have seemed to be at different ends of the field in every race but we look forward to locking horns with Craig again shortly. The next time should be on our home track so should be good.
I have attached some photos of the car beautifully captured by Yaz from NZ Stockcar Crazy. Thanks once again Yaz it is greatly appreciated. More new pics on the media page.
This week we are back at Waikaraka for our last run before Christmas. We believe we will have a good field of cars and, with the extra incentive of a $500 feature on offer, the racing should have an extra bit of spice. Good fields are expected in all classes including Superstocks and there is even talk of another fireworks display so make Waikaraka your destination this weekend.
See ya at the track