Sunday, April 01, 2012
Modified Grand Prix
Waikaraka Park, Auckland
Both times this season when WP have run a Grand Prix meeting the fans have been subjected to lap after lap of wheel packing, hours of it in fact! Sunday's meeting was a result of a wise decision to postpone Saturday nights event. What a stunner Sunday turned out to be, hard to believe considering the weather during the previous 24 hours. Unfortunately, even with brilliant sunshine the damage to the track had been done and a 2pm start was delayed for an hour and a half for wheelpacking and believe it or not track watering! A field of only 12 Modifieds fronted, bettered by the MiniSprints running their North Island title with a field of 14 cars. Stockcars and MiniStocks brought the bigger numbers to the meeting with 17 and 26 respectively.
Heat one of the Modifieds almost started with the worst possible scenario, 1nz Bunter Pierce and 4s Mark Dixon touching wheels causing Dixon to spin in front of the whole field. Imagine the title could have been down to 5 or 6 cars before it had even started. Fortunately the full field restarted but Dixon's race would end a few laps later on the infield along with 36a Phil Crumpe and 29a Paul Wade. 19a Scott Lane took the lead around about the lap 5 mark and had a convincing win from grid 5. The track offered little and passing was proving difficult. Local favourite 11a Jamie Fox had a rear grid 11 start, but managed to claw his way up to 6th. I thought in a field this small it may have cost him the title already.
19a, 1nz, 31s, 8s, 6a, 11a, 17a, 22a, 81a
Phil Crumpe never made it out for heat 2 leaving a gap on grid 3. This heat would be remembered for ending a few major players hopes. 6a Brian Jesen took the lead from his front row start, 11a Fox was held up by 17a giving 31s Farron Lowry a gap to pass. A big tangle of cars on turn 4 saw the front end of Pierce's car collapse and on the yellow lights, Lowry was sent infield by the officials because of damage to his car, he was not happy! The next lap 8s Sean Rice had contact with the rear of 17a Robertson's car, damaging the 17a. Another yellow light soon after for an errant wheel that decided to depart the 29a Wade machine let the field close up with Jesen leading Fox, ahead of Dixon, Lloyd, Lane, Shannon and Rice. A nailbiting finish had Fox pass Jesen on the last lap for a valuable win, and for heat 1 winner Lane a very costly late loss of 1 place meant there would be a three way tie for points going into the last heat between him, Fox and Jesen.
11a, 6a, 4s, 22a, 8s, 19a, 81a
Heat 3 and all eyes were on the Auckland trio of cars, Fox off grid 3 alongside Lane on 4, and Jesen well back on 9. Little did we realise 8s Rice was also in the hunt for the title and starting on grid 2. Phil Crumpe's terrible day finally ended on lap 2 and then the front runners settled in for a race long battle, 8s Rice leading, 22a Glen Lloyd in second and 11a Fox in third. Lane slipped back to 5th ending his hopes when 1nz Pierce moved ahead of him. For the rest of the race Fox was unable to get the pass on Lloyd that would win him the title outright and a run-off between Fox and Rice would be required. I think Foxy was probably as surprised as the crowd was as I though he had done enough to win. He did eventually get that one title that has eluded him all these years, winning the runoff outright and finally crowned NZ Grand Prix champ for 2011/12.
8s, 22a, 11a, 1nz, 19a, 6a, 4s, 31s, 81a, 17a, 29a
Stockcars were the best of the rest, with Jamie Fergusson driving the 242a car of Bernie Fox and showing some great flag racing skills we don't often see from him. He picked up a 3rd place behind 95a Gary Lonergan and 57a Ryan Eustace in heat one, and a win in heat two ahead of 29a Scott Tennant and Lonergan. In heat three he reverted to form, stirring up trouble and denied 95a Gary Lonergan the feature win just metres from the flag, 77a Brad Bates taking the flag.
Meeting rating : 5/10
Programme : $2.00, A5 some content in colour
Driver of the night : 11a Jamie Fox
Parking : Free
Best Moment : 242a Jamie Fergusson