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Race Report Palmerston North – Jan 22nd 2024

North Island Champs

It had been a lean couple of months as far as racing goes, we pulled out of the Taranaki Champs due to impending weather, despite the meeting getting through just in time. Then the Manawatu Champs at Christmas were a bust following more electrical gremlins. But with a bit more time over the summer break we were deep into the car making repairs and isolating all the possible issues with the sensors and the wiring loom. The North Island Champs would be the first Speedway NZ title for the summer series and the biggest race we would have at our home track in Palmerston North this season so we were keen to have a good showing. Hot laps went well, proving we had solved the electrical issues. We made one change to the car afterward which made sure the car was completely fixed and ready for a big night ahead.

The 20 strong field of minisprints was split into two groups for the heat races, before combining for an all-in 25 lap feature to decide the championship. We drew marble 6 which put us mid field for our two heats. For race 1 we missed the setup a little as the other classes’ practice had caused more wear on the track than we envisaged and we struggled to get a handle on the car. We made some changes inside the car to the shocks which made a big difference and at least allowed us to make some forward ground after a quiet start. We picked up a couple in one corner then were able to make a few more spots as others also struggled eventually winding up third. It felt like a win after the tough run we had endured on the last few weeks.

Heat two we started fourth and moved our way up to second after a couple of quick passes we then stalked the leader but couldn’t make a pass, but were happy with our qualifying points. Our finishes put us second and in the power position for the feature, controlling the start pace on the outside lane. We made our final few setup changes and were ready for the gruelling feature ahead despite being a little short on tires.

In the feature we made a great start and got away to a clear lead for the first part of the race, although from the driver’s seat with no mirrors you just have to push as hard as possible until the chequered flag. We caught and dispatched the first group of lappers, but due to the speed of the field this was no easy feat and it felt like we were losing time. As it turned out the chasing pack barely made it to the back of the field so we had plenty of space. We caught the next cars but they were trailing some oil making the track slippery and impossible to try and make a pass. Luckily the white flag soon came out and we just had to hold on once more around to round out an emphatic victory and put ourselves back on top leading into the business end of the season.

The NZ champs will be our next outing at Stratford Speedway in the middle of February, hopefully we can put on another good showing at the biggest meeting of the year!