Sunday, February 22, 2009
Jenkins Group Modified Dirt Cup / Ollie Browne Superstocks
A rain out last weekend, and it was looking like the same for this weekend but fortunately a break in the weather allowed the meeting to go ahead. No surprises then that most of the visiting Mods were strong contenders from Stratford, or from nearby tracks to add to the locals giving us a quality field of twenty including 1nz and 3nz. The other attraction for the night was the Ollie Browne Memorial SuperStocks only managing 15 cars including 8 locals, 3 from Rotorua, 3 from Huntly and 1 from Kihikihi.
Modifieds Heat 1
With this many Mods on the track the feeling as the green flag dropped was 'let the carnage begin' but looking back over the whole night it wasn't nearly as bad as I had feared. A few quick retirements in the opening laps took out 31h and 78h, early leader 121s Rose was barged out of the lead by a rampaging 10s Willie Noonan who was impressive mainting that position for the heat 1 win. 19r Scott Lane was unlucky to roll while avoiding 11a Fox who had been impeded by a spinning 64a caught out in a rut on turn 2 that would cause problems for all drivers throughout the night. The other main casualty of heat 1 was 8h Dean Martin who rolled end over end on cemetery bend finishing his night. The restart after the 19r roll caused problems with 7a Drake being left at the front of the field, also 56a Blakely spun out being sent to the rear of the field. Result: 10s, 6a, 11a, 121s, 1nz, 4s, 41a 3nz
First heat winner Noonan roared out of the pit gate and then retired to the infield. Scott Lane's miserable night continued with a spin bringing on the yellows, 3nz Pierce lead for the whole race and made easy work of picking off the lapped traffic. 7a and 64a had a coming together ending 7a's race and with about 10 laps to go the track started to dust up big time. Most of the interest in this race was from 2nd place to 6th with 1nz Jackson, 18r Hansen, 4s Dixon, 6a Jesen and 11a Fox putting on some stunning racing. Result: 3nz, 1nz, 4s, 18r, 6a, 11a, 41a Stratford finish 1, 2, 3.
A pole shuffle for the top six was a great initiative and I think a winner with the crowd, possibly the best way of earning a front row grid unlike the ridiculous inversion thing they do with Sprintcars. 11a Fox managing to move up from 4th highest to eventual pole position for the big final. 121s defeated 18r, 11a df 121s, 11a df 4s, 11a df 3nz, 11a df 1nz, 6a df 11a but chose grid 2 for the final.
11a Fox took the lead from the first corner over an impressive 6a Brian Jesen, 36a Crumpe and 10s Noonan had contact resulting in the two cars being locked together. 19a Lane spun bringing on the yellows. 29a Wade retired and 121s Rose and 4s Dixon collided spinning Dixon who was sent to the rof. Lane pulled off at this point ending his wretched night. Fox looked home for all money at this stage until coming up behind 41a Gary Parker who he couldn't get passed which closed the field up behind him. The yellows came on again for 78h who had spun but from then on it was all Fox who took a resounding victory over a depleted field of 10 cars. 4s Dixon had made up a huge amount of places and could so easily have been on the podium if not for the early spin. Result: 11a, 6a, 3nz, 1nz, 4s, 56a, 18r, 41a, 7a.
Good racing from this class and a top quality field deserving a much bigger crowd than what was on hand. A heartfelt speech from Jamie Fox was well recieved and so was the win for this popular Aucklander. There's no doubt that this class should be the jewel in the crown at WP but I can honestly say I didnt see or hear any promotion of the event at all leading up to Saturday and I can only guess that perhaps the promoters didn't think the meeting would go ahead? Whatever the case, this class always has the potential to really rock every time they have a decent field and once again they delivered the goods. I did like it when Bunter Pierce was asked about the comparison between driving a saloon at WP and a Modified and his response that the Mod wins hands down, 'absolutely awesome to drive'.
As for the rest of the night, the Ollie Browne racing was fairly tame and two wins and a fourth placing were good enough for 66r Steve Hampton to claim the title. I believe 515r Stan Hickey and 414a Warwick Ansty rounded out the top three. Carlos Chestnutt took on the driving duties in the new 63a Marx car in a quiet night for him. Also quiet on the night was the disappointing small field of 13 Stockcars, 6 SuperSaloons and 13 Saloons. Sidecars made one appearance on the infield track. Apart from the Modifieds, the meeting felt a little bit flat to me but at least it was good to get some racing in. Once again the amount of visiting drivers must be a concern, lets hope the numbers increase for the SuperStocks North Island title which should be the next big meeting for WP.
Meeting rating : 6/10