Taupo. Feb 2010
It was a busy week at Hampton Downs, followed by some adverse weather at an equally busy few days at Pukekohe. The three days off in between, to catch up on mowing lawns etc, were used up getting my Mallock repaired for Taupo. The rear axle taken out and stripped; a new Panhard rod mount fabricate and welded on and then all put back together. Three days gone just like that. With a set-up on Thursday morning we were at last away to Taupo.
The containers arrived late on the Thursday afternoon, so the visitors were well set up in garages by Friday. All the ones Susanne spoke to had had a great visit to New Zealand and were very complimentary about NZ hospitality. Barbara Manning and her crew still had a smile on their faces after three very hectic Festival weekends. Well done them.
Never having run on the long circuit at Taupo before, I took advantage of the Friday test and got in three sessions. I found the infield a bit tight and narrow, challenging yes. For this meeting the Sports Cars ran with the Formula Fords and Juniors, probably because there were only two Sports Cars entered. Nev McKay with his Mallock Mk 8 and myself. This was disappointing after such strong fields at both Hampton Downs and Pukekohe. So there were some easy points available, all I had to do was finish the three races. Friday was exceedingly hot and Saturday and Sunday would be even hotter.
Qualifying on Saturday morning was a struggle for newcomers to the circuit and a lot of the overseas Junior drivers were scratching their heads wondering where to find some extra time. For the first race I was 15th on the grid and Nev just in front on 13th spot but at turn one on the 2nd lap he did a 360 and we all got by. A couple of laps later he came steaming by and that was the last I saw of him as he marched through the field with the bit between his teeth. For race three he would start on grid 5.
For race two I was on grid 21, as a number Formula Fords had by then found the fast line. But by mid race my brake pedal went away when a rear brake shoe adjuster unwound and let the shoe back from the drum. The problem was fixed with a couple of turns of lock wire. The third race was going well until a rear wheel came off a FJ in turn 3. The wheel bounced across the gravel trap, over the armco barrier and ended up in the middle of the main straight at about the 300yd board. It was hard to see and I only just managed to swerve in time to miss it. The yellow flags came out and the last half of the race was run behind the pace car. A disappointing end to a good weekend racing.
My lap times had improved with each run and there is still more time to come, maybe a second. One of the stars of the weekend was Martin Lucas, historic FF who, by the last race had worked his way up to 6th on the grid beside Nev McKay. Earlier this season Martin and I used to run at about the same pace but he finished the day 7 sec faster! Youth over experience I say.