This wrap-up has been sitting in the draft pile on the website for a week or ten too long, so apologies to everyone for not getting my A into G and hitting the “publish” button.
So without any further delay…drum roll please….
This seasons victors and recipients of a F1 test with Manor F1 (OK, maybe that last bit is a little bit untrue), are Ron Wilkin and Gavin Aleksich in Class 1 and 2 respectively.
Whilst not taking away a victory this season, Ron has plugged away at the top, or near the top from start to finish this past season and was able to amass a decent haul of points to see him better long time racer Phil Foulkes by 14 points, even with Phil phoning a friend in the last race to try and overcome the points gap. A happy third was first season veteran Keith Mainland.
Class 2 was headed this season by first season veteran Gavin Aleksich taking his Mondiale into the top weekend points on several occasions. The ever fast Tony Graham was second, and Lindsay Porter took home third place laurels.
Promise of decent weather and an old fashioned ‘quick-fire’ race schedule attracted the biggest group of old fart Formula Fords to be assembled together for some time. Firstly a big welcome to newcomers to our happy little band – Geoff Bogue (ex Brownlie/Fraser Lola – blue #36), and Gavin Aleksich who has purchased the white/red #55 Mondiale that Dave Silverton originally imported and Mike Lee subsequently ran. It was great seeing these new faces, and wonderful to see Harold Phillips looking so well after some of his health challenges this year – really hope to see you back in your exquisite Lola soon Harold. Also brilliant to see Graham Main looking fit after his recent scare.
Speaking of Lolas – the bloody things are everywhere, mostly driven by Taurangaians but great to also see Keith Jones out again. Chris Fraser tried convincing everyone his car was better prepped than ever before a race but when the fuel went in, it came straight out – so scratch a Lola while other cars had turned but refused to cooperate in the form a black Reynard that wouldn’t start (bad luck John Pickford), the Crossle of Don Hopkins while after just one lap in race one, Dave’s PRS was out for the day. My specially trained mechanical ear detected a head gasket – and if I’m right, getting to Manfeild should be a piece of cake.
And so to the racing – Tony Graham has not slowed down and was easily fastest of the more modern cars. Phil Foulkes led the way in the class 1 cars with Tony Cross and Gerald Duncan squaring off for next best. Gerald has made quite a stride towards the sharp end and continues to personalise the car with new a new number and font. Behind them was arguably the best scraps through all three races. Ron Wilkin really had the Elden going well and was chased hard in race 1 by Keith Mainland in the ex-Richard Cullen #79 VD. His stated aim for the day was to “get into the 15s” – his best previous time having been a 16.1. Ron and Keith put on a great show with Ron using his greater experience to hold the VD out. They recorded identical fastest laps – but Keith failed in the quest to do ‘a 15’ by doing a 14.9.
In race 2 they were at it again and Keith slipped by going into the sweeper on the last lap. Tony Cross had stopped on the very outside of the sweeper meaning the yellow flag was being waved and correctly observed by Ron…but not by the VD driver. The Tauranga Lolas ran nose to tail in race 3, Keith Jones went quicker and quicker while Gavin and Geoff had smiles wide enough to suggest they’ll be coming out to play more often. No cars were hurt and there would seem to be a fair number of us heading down to Manfeild.
So some prizes for our TACCOC Spring meeting field of Formula 1 hopefuls:
The Clay Regazzoni Award for the most blatant jump start of 2014 (thus far) goes to Gerald Duncan
The Gilles Villeneuve Award for getting the car most sideways goes to Phil Foulkes – but only just from Tony Graham
The Vittorio Brambilla Award for colour blindness goes to Keith Mainland
Biggest improvement in one meeting….Keith again – from a 16.1 to a 14.1…
Most consistent line of every lap – Lindsay Porter and Keith Jones – a tie
Best presented car; a guarantee to make me unpopular but what do I care? Bernie Hines – green Lola #221…bloody gorgeous
Rumours from the day
Tony is still considering introducing the concept of paint to the 85 Reynard
Peter Boel is well on the way to having the Lotus 51B back on the track after the wee incident at the Car-breaker
We will have another Crossle on the grid for the Howden Ganley Festival meetings
Well, the weather was supposed to be pretty marginal all weekend, and so it turned out – on the day that was supposed to be fine (ish).
Eight likely lads and their cars entered the Icebreaker to kick the 2014/15 season off, and with the weatherman getting the Saturday forecast almost 100% face about arse, practise/qually and the afternoons races went off without a hitch. Most of the field also did the double in qually, and tagged along with the Formula Libre class for an additional seven laps or so.
The first race saw Tony Cross in pole, closely followed by Peter Boel in his Lotus 51B, and Martin Lucas in his new (old?) Van Diemen taking third. During the race, Tony managed to pull away from Peter to finish 2.3secs up, with Don Hopkins rounding out the podium a close 0.6secs behind Peter.
Overnight the weather worsened with a swing to a front coming up from the South West. This meant some heavy rain, and continual showers for the first half of the day, resulting in many of the Historic Muscle Cars packing it in for the day and heading home. Formula Libre also threw in the towel (something about them only having slicks…when will they learn??) so it was down to the Formula Fords to fly the open wheeler flag.
“A river runs through it” would have been an apt description of the course when race two rolled around. Coupled with a strong headwind along the pit straight, the race was going to be a challenge from the outset. After a two lap warmup, the race got underway with all cars safely off the grid. However it was not to remain as Craig Munro aqua-planed into the Armco barrier 350m from the sweeper resulting in a three legged Lola. This brought out the red flag, and the race was restarted, albeit missing half the grid as several then took the safe option and headed for the pits to retire. Tony Cross, Peter Boel, Martin Lucas and Dave Silverton took the restart, but Dave decided discretion was the better part of valour and soon called it quits on the race.
This left Tony, Peter and Martin to safely circulate and make it to the chequered flag.
The final race was run in better conditions, but with one car out with damage, and two off home for a pre-planned beer or three, only five cars took starters orders. Tony Cross made it a brace of victories, and Peter Boel a brace of seconds. Don Hopkins registered another third for the weekend.
The racing now moves on to the first TACCOC race meeting at Pukekohe on October 4th.
North Island and South Island Formula Ford Series Announced
All series’ working together for bigger grids next season
Formula Ford racing could receive a major boost to grids with the announcement of North and South island local series, both of which will share some dates with the national Formula Ford championship.
Both the North Island and South Island series will be open to any Formula Ford racing cars, but a variety of classes incorporating modern and less contemporary machinery will operate to encourage more drivers to bring out the legendary single seater racing cars. Classes will cater for all later eras of the popular racing category.
Each of the North Island and South Island series will run over six rounds, with each sharing three rounds with the premier six round National Formula Ford Championship – a title which boasts some of the country’s finest racing names as winners.
North Island-based Formula Ford drivers and teams can double up by competing for both the National title and the North Island title. The national championship rounds at Hampton Downs (February 1 and 2), Manfeild (February 8 and 9) and Taupo (March 8 and 9) will also form three rounds of the new North Island series, with the three New Zealand Racing Drivers League meetings at Manfeild (March 1 and 2), Taupo (April 5 and 6) and Hampton Downs (May 3 and 4) completing the North Island series dates.
There will be a similar opportunity on the South Island for teams and drivers there, with the championship rounds at Ruapuna on November 2 and 3, Teretonga on January 11 and 12 and Levels on January 18 and 19 qualifying for both National Championship points and South Island Formula Ford series points, with further meetings at Levels on November 17th, Teretonga on December 7 and 8 and Ruapuna on March 23 providing the remaining three rounds for the South Island Formula Ford series.
“It is very positive to see a high level of co-operation within the Formula Ford classes with the aim to secure a future for the NZ Formula Ford Championship,” explained MotorSport New Zealand’s General Manager, Brian Budd. “Formula Ford is still accepted internationally as the ideal formula in which young race car drivers can develop race craft that positions them to go on and succeed in wings and slicks formulas. For that reason MotorSport New Zealand continues to support Formula Ford.”
NZRDL co-organiser and HRC boss Chris Watson was also delighted with the news of a coordinated Formula Ford approach in NZ. “We’re very pleased to be involved in this very exciting resurgence in Formula Ford racing. The category has always been an important step in the career of young drivers and by including Historic Formula Ford it gives younger drivers less of a financial hurdle to enter the class.”
South Island series organiser Steve Edwards too, says the coordinated approach is great news for Formula Ford in New Zealand.
“New Zealand is a small country so one set of regulations for all FF championships is sensible simply so cars can enter a range of events. Currently all four series have their own rules which divides the racing potential of the 150 odd cars in the country. One core set of regulations have been achieved and that is great news. We want maximum sized grids this season. By improving the ‘class’ structure of the national series this has been achieved. We all very much hope the outcome will be substantial grid sizes with purposeful, close racing throughout.”