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The weekend began as we turned up to the track at Taupo, this time, on a Saturday, rather than the usual Friday, I went into the test day with a very little amount of experience, as the last time I had driven on the Taupo track was months ago, in my first meeting in the Formula Ford (without any testing).

Come the first run and things went smoothly, with me swiftly getting to grips with the track again, and finding my feet on the resealed part of the track which later came back to haunt me. After the first session, we did a spanner check over the car and found something wasn’t right, as we checked a bolt connecting the bell housing to the subframe, it went tight and then loose. “Shit!” It was right stuck too, we attempted to use an easy-out on it but that came to nothing other than a broken tool. We kept trying things and eventually decided that we had to take the bell housing off the car to get it out. Thankfully, that came to a success, while we were doing this we were looking for a man that would be able to make a threaded insert to the right dimensions. That man was Vijay Dheda, from Munkey Metalworx. He dropped it, along with some tools and anything we might need off, and by around 11PM, we had the job done.

The Sunday began, and I was fueled by a Redbull and only a few hours of sleep, as I rolled out of bed and into the race suit I managed to put the car on the front row of the grid, in P2 after getting a sneaky tow.

Race 1 began, and it almost went down the drain before the lights turned green. The car started creeping on the line, but luckily I managed to get on the brakes before the lights went green, the race began and I challenged for the lead around the outside of turn 1, however that came to no avail. Coming around the top corner Liam made a move on me to attempt to claim P2, but I hustled the car around the outside and onto the long back straight ahead of him. Later in the race, he suffered a fuel pump issue, and I lapped in second for the rest of the race, to come home with P2.

By Race 2 we had found a way around the issue, and we got off to a better start this time, again challenging around the outside with much the same theme as the last. I lapped in 2nd before Dylan made a mistake at the newly resealed turn 7, and I inherited the lead, Liam made an excellent move down the inside of me as my tires began to go off, and the very next lap I found myself defending from Dylan, the tires were fried and I was doing my best to hang onto whatever position I could. However, I made a mistake while trying to hold onto 2nd and dropped to 4th, where I finished the race.

Before Race 3 the rain came down and the track was soaked, we bolted on the ‘wets’ (Fresh new tires) and went out onto the track feeling confident that I could race up the front with the tires being on point. I’m not 100% sure about what happened with the gridding process, but some of our places were moved around, and I was put on 4th, as the lights went out I quickly gained 2 positions, putting me in 2nd before turn 1. By lap 4 the leader had built a 2-second lead, but by lap 7 I had cut it back down to under a second. I managed to break through the ‘wall of water’ spraying up off the tires by lap 9 and I was looking for opportunities to gain the lead. I spotted a dry spot near the top of the track at the newly resealed turn 7, I mentioned it came back to haunt me, and this was it. My first DNF of the season. Due to the way the reseal was done it was supposed to be swept every race, I believed this was what was happening too. I entered the corner and tried to take the high line, I thought I had it made… Until I found myself sitting in the gravel, looking at the track with only a couple of laps to go, marbles lining the surface. Shit. On the bright side, I still came out of the weekend with 2nd place in the championship, but now I’ve got to work a bit harder in the next few rounds. I’m also super happy with how far I’ve come, as the last time I raced in the rain at Taupo I was very nearly lapped by Liam, the winner of this race.

I’d like to give a special mention to Chris Canham for coming out to Taupo, all the way from Levin and supporting me on the weekend!

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