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On Thursday morning I was off to see the senior masters at school to get another exeat so I could leave school early and go racing.

 

At 1:20 that afternoon we were off lugging the trailer up to Hampton Downs for the next 6 hours; never without a Burgerfuel stop!

 

We had some confidence going into this round after working with Shogun Innovations to get closer to some of our goals regarding the car’s performance.

Practice and Qualifying

 

We were up nice and early on Friday morning to hit the track with some of our shiny new upgrades. The sun was out and we were improving on pace each run! Unfortunately, being mixed in with the Formula Firsts’ didn’t help us get very many laps in, but we got just enough info to confirm our setup.

 

The rain came down on Saturday when we were qualifying; throwing out our setup from Friday.

 

At the start of the session we headed off from the back of the dummy grid, having to make it past the historic’s before being able to get a lap in. I had 2 chances to get in a push lap, the first of which was rudely interrupted by a car doing a 360 down the straight…

1 Lap after that, when the conditions were at their worst and most of the other cars had came in, I had my last chance to get a lap in.

Every last turn of the lap I was; counter-steering, wheel-spinning, and getting so close to locking up.

I couldn’t tell if it was fast or slow…

 

The timing sheets told the tale as I jumped from 8th to 2nd on the final lap of quali!

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Race 1

We lined up on the grid in P2 and waited for the lights to go green, getting the jump off the line and making it into P1 by turn 1.

A few laps into the race Izaak Fletcher, from the South Island went up my inside into turn 1. While the track was as wet as it was at this point Izaak had the advantage over me, looking back on the race I’d guess that he had higher tyre pressures than me… The safety car came out just 1 lap after he passed me, and the track was drying.

When the safety car was about to come in, the track wasn’t quite dry but it definitely allowed the tyre temps to rise back up, and my tyres were in the window - we had made the right call before the race.

The safety car was in, the lights went green and we were racing again! Everyone was nervous to push the conditions right off the restart and we were all single file for most of the first lap. As we went into the dipper for the first time since the restart, I made a cutback on the exit and was into the lead of the race.

I kept on pushing and opened up a gap to 2nd place of ~0.65s. On my way into the final lap, I got caught up a little in lap traffic with the historics to finish 1st by 0.034s!

Race 2

 

Race 2 was the next day and by then the track was dry and we were off for a good days racing. Due to the scratch grid format we were off of P3 for Race 2, only for a safety car to come out by lap 1. The order of the top 5 as it stood behind the safety car, completely reversed by the time the race ended!

With myself still in 3rd over the line.

 

I made it easy for the 2 behind me to get past. They weren’t in the fight for the championship so I knew I was only really aiming to finish ahead of the 2 that were. I thought the time we’d lose by battling wouldn’t be worth it, and the extra horsepower they had would give me a good tow down the straight. I was right. We sat in the tow down the straight, using the extra help to get on the back of the front 2 and move back through into 3rd after being down in 5th.

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Race 3 brought an extra 2 laps with it; to be a 12 lap race. This had us with a little extra fuel on board and that’s about it. I was starting P3 on the grid and aside from lapping the historics later in the race, it was very straightforward. I only had a small battle at the start of the race, only to lead to 11 laps of circulating on my own to pick up the points and come 3rd for the final race of the weekend.

Overall the meeting went well and gave us some confidence going forward, earning us some more points toward the championship, closing the gap to 1st down by 38 points, to take the championship lead by 1 point.

 

The next NIFF event is in just under 2 weeks time at my home track of Manfeild. This round is coupled with the 3rd round of the NZFF championship. This event will be followed by the V8 Supercars meeting at Taupo just 2 weeks later!

 

Overall Points after Round 4/6
Pos/No./ Name/Total
1/ 6 Blake Dowdall 717
2/ 20 Dylan Grant 716
3/ 90 Zach Blincoe 712
4/ 93 Mason Potter 643
5/ 86 Toby McCormack 546
6/ 92 Shane Drake 511
7/ 49 Reagan Edwards 472
8/ 50 Blake Knowles 436

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