The first race of 2012 was held at Taupo Motorsport Park over the weekend of 14 & 15 January. Weather was overcast and windy, however the forecast rain stayed away for all FFord races.
Championship leader, Mike Creswell, trialled his T342’s snorkel during free practice on Friday, but his times were off so he reverted to running without it for the rest of the weekend, however he still wasn’t quite fast enough to get onto the front row after qualifying, the honour shared by Tony Cross and David Silverton.
Race One saw Peter Boel in his Lotus Mk41C scamper off, leaving the way clear for the fast group of Cross, Creswell, Silverton, Mike Hunter, and Don Hopkins to dice it out cleanly without the out-of-class car of Peter Boel’s being a factor to the racing. Cross and Silverton managed to break the tow of the two Mikes and Don Hopkins, and pressed off into the distance establishing a lead over third place of 18-sec’s by the end of race, with TC edging Silverton by 0.6secs on the line to take the win.
Meanwhile, the race for third was being hotly contested between the two Mikes of Creswell and Hunter, with the latter holding third for most of the race until a spin going into the left hander that exits the in-field section ended with him square to the track, and Mike Creswell diving for cover via the kitty litter, re-entering the track in third place just ahead of the now caught up Don Hopkins. Hunter resumed behind Don, and there they stayed to the end.
Race Two saw Peter Boel grab a box of neutral’s at the go, baulking those behind him on the grid. However of more import was TC grabbing himself a jumpstart penalty which played out against him for line honours. TC and Silverton resumed their dicing at the front, clearly the fastest two cars on Saturday, again opening up a 18-19sec margin at the chequers. Dave led the most of the race between them, with TC taking a look for the pass and the lead twice going into the chicane off the drag strip. On the very final lap, TC mad the pass stick, and they crossed the line 0.23-sec apart, however TC’s jumpstart and subsequent 5-sec penalty reversed the finishing order between them.
The two Mike’s again had a dice throughout the race, never more than a car length gapping them, with Hunter staying ahead until the last lap as Creswell entered the dragstrip chicane ahead, then crossing the line a half second up on the other Mike.
Race Three was run on Sunday morning with Roger Slee was a non-starter in his Dulon. The front three on the grid was again Cross, Silverton and Creswell, however TC must have had too much bacon for breakfast and Dave Silverton simply drove away throughout the race for a comfortable 12-sec victory.
The action therefore moved to the two Mike’s and Don Hopkins once more, this time with Hunter and Hopkins heading Creswell for most of the race. With three laps to go, Creswell setup a pass on Hopkins as they entered the start finish straight pulling along side on the exit from the dragstrip chicane and taking the inside line through the left hander onto the start finish straight. Hopkins had more speed out of the corner and pulled forward so the two were running nose cone to gear box, however Creswell kept to the middle of the track and thus held Hopkins to the outside line through turn one and simply drove inside and past him. It was then a matter of T340 vs T342 as Creswell chased down Tony Cross with an approximate four second deficit with 2-and-a-half laps to run.
However the lap count settled the matter, with TC crossing the line 1.3-secs up on the charging T342 behind him.
Special mention too for Michael Clark, proving that bottle openers are not the only tool one should keep in their toolbox as his exhaust pipe extension fell off on the last lap of the race, ruining what was a pretty decent run for him in race three. Mayhaps someone will loan him a spanner next weekend?