| North Island Champs - Wellington 03/03/07.
Can't complain about the weather in Wellington on Saturday… it was beautiful and it looked to bring the crowds out for the racing. Looked to me like they had a reasonable crowd in, and they were rewarded with some great modified racing.
The results are well known by now and congratulations to Tama, Allan and Mark for filling the podium positions. Tama has had his fair share of bad luck the last few years and it was just reward to see him taking out a title this season. Lets hope it is enough to keep him in the class and that he withdraws the #9w modified from the “for sale” pages. Allan has had a dream run so far this season and has made the most of it. It's all very well when your luck is in but you still need to take advantage of it. Allan is doing so. Mark Dixon started the year off late but is now hitting his straps. He looked every bit worth his 3rd place finish so well done mate.
What can I say about our run at the weekend. Foxy threw everything but the kitchen sink at the event with little reward. Just really hasn't been our year. To be honest we think we are actually going better than last year and Foxy is driving the wheels off the car but maybe we used up all our luck last season!!
We had a reasonable draw for the first heat leaving from grid 16. Allan drew the lucky grid 1 position, Tama drew grid 9 and Mark Dixon was off grid 17. We had a wee problem in that the guy starting in front of us is reasonably new to the sport and, instead of forming up properly, he left about a 2-3 car length gap in front of him, this resulted in the inside cars getting a jump on us at the start.
Foxy had no option but to jump straight to the outside of the track to try and limit the damage. This had us holding our breath a bit as the guy in front also drifted out a bit at the start and Foxy had to graze the wall just to pass his first car of the night! Luckily he escaped with no damage on this manoeuvre and he was quickly into passing cars.
We had the car hooked up well and Foxy was flying on the outside line. It wasn't long before he had worked his way up to Tama and was able to make a pass on him for 6th. Foxy seemed to be in a good groove now and was committed to running the highline. Next in his sights were the Ward brothers who were having a ding-dong battle for 4th and 5th (no brotherly love in this instance!). These guys were ducking and diving everywhere trying to get the better of each other and Foxy joined the fray. This backfired on us a bit as entering turn 3 Foxy tried on the outside of them both but got balked a bit as one of the boys slid up the track, this allowed Tama to sieze the moment and slide back under Foxy. It was about this time that a caution was thrown and as this had played out on the caution lap the guys went back to their positions from the lap before for the restart.
The running order was 1nz, 6a, 71s, 77, 55s, 3nz and 9w. This is where it turned pear-shaped! On the restart Foxy dove straight to the outside in an attempt to pass 55s. Coming off the turn Jacko had a moment and spun up, Craig had no where to go and plowed into him. This left these guys siting smack in the middle of the track and with Foxy on the outside of Paul neither had any room to avoid the incident and plowed straight into the stranded pair. Foxy sustained massive damage with a smashed frontend, damaged wing, stuffed front tyre and most importantly front chassis damage. The crash also took both the Wards boys out but amazingly enough Jacko was able to restart his car and drive away. The biggest winner in all this was Tama who instantly went from grid 7 to 4th. On the restart Tama made the most of this opportunity by passing Jacko, as he pulled infield after another wee moment in turn 3, and getting past 6a Brian Jesen for 2nd.
After a quick inspection back in the pits, and some discussion, we decided that although our chances of defending the title had gone we would fix the damage and do the last 2 heats in an attempt to learn as much as we could about the track for next years NZ title to be held in Wellington. The focus therefore changed from winning the event to winning both of the remaining heats.
The front end, front wheel and the wing where all replaced and although the chassis had been damaged, we made some adjustments to the suspension to allow for this, we went out for heat 2 from grid 6. In front off Foxy on the grid were 10s Willy Noonan from 5 and 69w Mike Moore from grid 3. Other notable draws were 1nz from grid 11, 9w from grid 19 and Mark Dixon from grid 7. Foxy was down to start behind the same guy from heat 1 so after we had the car fixed Foxy went over for a word with him to try and relax the guy. He told him it was important that he grid up properly and not leave any gaps. Keep the car as tight as possible down low so that if the quicker guys want to go around him at the start they can, this should avoid anybody getting unnecessary damage. The guy seemed to appreciate the advise and he did a lot better at the start of this heat.
When the green dropped Mike quickly got to the front and started to open up a big lead. After a few tentative laps to make sure the car was ok Foxy started to work the highline again and he put together some very fast and impressive passing manoeuvres. It wasn't long before Foxy had worked his way into 2nd and he then started to chase down Mike out front. Mike was doing a great job with putting the odd lapped car in between him and Foxy and it wasn't until the last couple of laps that Foxy was able to clear the lapped traffic and pull Mike in. The speed difference between the two was evident and Foxy was able to blast past Mike on the outside on the last lap for the win. He was followed by 69w Mike Moore (grid 3), 4s Mark Dixon (grid 7), 10s Willy Noonan (grid 5), 1nz Allan Haigh (grid 11), 6a Brian Jesen (grid 13) and Tama (grid 19).
We made a few more changes to the car for heat 3 to try a few things and Foxy started from grid 9. Guys in front were 56s Paul Blakeley from grid 2, Tama from grid 4, Craig Ward from grid 6 and Mark Dixon from grid 7. 1nz Allan Haigh was off grid 20 but with the field down to 15 cars he was gifted some cheap points. Paul took off from the front and was showing good pace. Tama and 77s Craig Ward quickly followed him. Foxy meanwhile had returned out to his preferred raceline and been able to drive around the outside of Mark and a few others. It wasn't long until he was nipping the heels of Craig in 3rd place. Tama by this stage had been able to get under Paul Blakeley and was looking comfortable out front. With about 1-2 laps to run there was a caution and this closed the field up. On the restart Foxy dove to the outside of Craig while he followed Paul into turn 1, coming off the turn Foxy had passed Craig and entering turn 3 he was on the outside of Paul. Paul ran a wee bit wide into this turn and momentarily got off the gas. This caused Foxy to ride over the back of Paul's car and bounce off into the wall. By the time he had it all back under control both Craig and Mark had been able to get back past on the inside and they stayed that way for the last lap. 9w, 56a, 77s, 4s, 3nz, 1nz.
So there we have it, Foxy was exciting to watch but came away empty handed with little to show for the meet apart from approx $3000.00 worth of damage. Far from being disappointed with our night in Wellington we actually came away very happy. I think there was little doubt that Foxy was the quickest on the night but that dosen't mean you will win. We learnt a great deal about the track and we look forward to heading down next season for the NZ title.
Our next outing is supposed to be this weekend at Waikaraka Park but we will need to have a much better look at the car first to see exactly how much damage there is. If we miss this weekend we will be at Waikaraka the following week for the 2nd night of the Auckland Champs. We are currently leading this event and we are determined to retain this title.
Last thing. Big congrats to Natasha who won the South Island champs in Blenheim on Saturday. 14 cars for their title is a good effort and after last years decision to not run the event due to lack of numbers it is great to see. We hope to visit the Mainland at Easter with a few other North Island boys to mix it up with you guys.
See ya at the track.