NZ Festival of Motor Racing, 28/29/30 January

31 01 2011

What a great Weekend of Motor Racing celebrating Chris Amon  🙂  We started with a wet qualifying on Friday 28th. The wet track suited my old Turbo and we qualified on pole position by more than a second, ahead of Neil Tolich’s Capri and Stuart Eyre’s Mazda RX3. Mike Delmont had trouble getting all his horsepower down to the track and qualified 15th. Sadly Bruce Manon had suffered gearbox problems and was off home to rebuild it for tomorrow. He would start from the back of the grid.

I figured that if I got a good run in our first race on Saturday (now on a dry track) I could beat Mike Delmont’s big horsepower BMW2002 Turbo. I knew he was a second a lap faster than me, but with only 8 laps I thought he would be held up in the traffic. All was going to plan as I held a slight lead over Neil’s Capri, and a good lead over Mike’s BMW, but then with 3 laps to go, the Safety car was put out when Mike Sexton got stuck in the sand at turn 8. This closed the field right up of course and I could see Mike Delmont and Bruce Manon (with gearbox fixed) right behind Neil’s Capri. At the restart I tried to sprint as fast as I could but the Safety car had given Delmont the Christmas present of his dreams…. I managed to hold him off until the final sprint up the hill to the finish line, but he powered, wheelspinning past at top speed, to beat me by .160 sec.

This set the trend for the Weekend as I had no answer (with 420hp) to his 800+hp, especially while my car is running on the required narrow tyres. Saturday’s second race was much of the same. I could easily win the start and lead for a few laps until my tyres overheated and then it was more of an ice skating display as I tried to hold off the following pack. This time Bruce’s car stopped with an electrical fault, so it was Neil Tolich chasing me across the line for 3rd place.

Sunday dawned dry and warm so I knew I was to have more trouble trying to control the Porsche on overheating tyres. I started 4th on the grid, won the drag to the first corner yet again and lead for a lap or two before suffering the usual frying of the tyres. This time I seemed to have less grip than before and I slowly got caught and passed by the BMW, Manon’s Escort, Neil’s Capri and then Mike Sexton driving his Mk1 Escort really well. We (Neil Tolich, Mike Sexton and myself) really enjoyed some fantastic passing and re-passing, slipping and sliding all over the place for the last half of the race. I tried to repass them both on the run up the hill to the finish but the tyres just spun so I finished 5th, behind Delmont, Manon, Sexton & Tolich, but at least the engine, gearbox and new clutch stood up to the terrible thrashing I was dishing out to the poor old girl.

Our last race saw me in 2nd place on the grid (I had managed one fast lap between all the ice-scating laps…)  I won the start again, as the Porsche has good initial grip with it’s engine over the back wheels. Neil Tolich got a good start too and chased me for the first lap, which held Mike’s BMW back for a while. Gradually Mike, then Bruce Manon got past Neil and set out after me. I really drove the wheels off the poor old Porsche for the entire 8 laps (using high revs and watching the temperature climbing) and finished quite close to Mike’s BMW, with Manon’s Escort and Tolich’s Capri close behind.

So the weekend finished with all the cars nice and straight. Good close racing, sometimes only inches apart but no touching, showed that all the drivers respect each other’s cars.

I am now really looking forward to racing it on the factory size tyres again, to remind me that it is not normally a bad handling car…….  I think we can close the gap to the very powerful BMW but it is always going to be hard to beat.  Luckily we thrive on a challenge…..


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