I finished 11th out of 80 on the slightly scary but completely fun Pukekohe race track. Totally stoked.
Now back to the start.
Toymota Racing was back to two cars but we had a little bit of doubt in the back of our minds over the Green Goblin.
Going into the race day both Dad and I were feeling sick and concerned for how it would effect us but not letting it stop us racing.
It was a weird start to Saturday because the 2kcup were scheduled to be last on track so we only had to show up by 1pm. We planned a nice sleep in but Friday night we discovered 2 of my new Dunlop tyres had been put on the rim backwards. Dads pretty awesome though so got up early Saturday to take them to a mechanic and get them swapped, he actually got there before they even opened.
With that sorted we headed to that track and parked up on the grass outside the track with 3 other MR2s. It looked pretty cool having 5 of them in a row.
Documentation was confusing and frustrating. Most of the communication from officials was poor throughout the day and it makes it hard for us. The most frustrating part was being told our first race wouldn’t be until 6 o’clock, what the hell? Why did we only find out about this on race day. At least one person had to just leave and miss the racing because they had other plans, expecting the racing would be finished by 6.
After a long wait it was time for qualifying, and boy was it fun.
I was in group 2, and Dad having not finished a race this season was in group 3. Pukekohe is notorious for its bumps but you can’t really appreciate it until you are going flat out wrestling the steering wheel praying the car wont slip out and slam you into the walls that are only meters away.
In my session I was caught in traffic but I was pushing hard and managed a good lap right at the end, a 1:27.7
Then Dad was up and we were both hoping it wasn’t going to overheat. Dad joked he would be driving straight into a wall if it did because we can’t deal with it anymore. In the end he managed a 1:29 and the car survived through to the end. He says he wasn’t pushing too hard because he was scared of it overheating but I have my suspicions its just an excuse for being so much slower then me.
My time was 10th in my session and put me 31st in the fast grid, bloody great, and it was in a bunch of 4 MR2s who qualified right next to each other. Dads time put him in 12th on the fast but not quite as fast (slow/second) grid. A good chance to work his way up near the top spots in the race.
After qualifying there was a huge break before the races. But once they started it was full on with the 2kcup races running back to back.
Being in the fast grid I was up first. We were told there would be two warm up laps, with us stopping on the grid in between. So when the lights went out after the first lap I took off slowly thinking it was another warm up but instead we were racing. I lost like 3 spots on that start, frustrated again that the communication from the officials had been wrong. The first few laps were awesome as always. A crazy number of cars all jostling for position, racing down the straights at speeds the Red Dragon can’t even measure (the speedo goes up to 180 which I was going over). A few laps in I found myself behind one car that I was slightly faster than. I spent possibly half the race trying to get past but there wasn’t quite enough difference in pace. I could get up along side him down the straight only to be helplessly on the outside of the first corner. I was giving it everything but as the race went on the tyres went off and I started getting sideways a bit. I had to drive super conservatively to keep it in line and it cost me time and a number of positions. On the last lap bloody #99 also managed to sneak through behind an integra lapping us. When I saw the chequered flag and realized I had been overtaken on the last lap I was gutted. But 29th was not a bad result for being on the fast grid.
Dads first race was next and when I pulled into the pits I rushed over to his car to turn on the camera. I knew it was low on battery so left him with the comment “if your going to spin do it early on so its recorded” while I went back to ready my car for the next race. Unfortunately Dad took it upon himself to follow my instructions and after going from 12th to 6th in the first lap (which was brilliant) he went from 6th to last in the second. Going into the first corner he was overtaking someone, and apparently quite excited about it because going into the second he didn’t slow down much at all, he didn’t even change down to third like you normally would. Instead he went in way too hot and spun oh so close to the wall on the outside, all captured from the incar camera. He got it going and got out all right but unfortunately the incident had ripped a tyre off the rim and he had to pull over and wait in his car the entire race, a position he is becoming far too familiar with.
After race 1 the sickness was getting to me again. I felt like I was going to faint so spent a fair while sitting down recovering. I thought there would be a couple of races before my next race, as per the schedule. Suddenly, as I was refueling the Red Dragon, Mark was running through the pit area shouting at us all to get down to the dummy grid, the races were moved to try fit the 2kcup in before it got dark. Dad would now happily kill me because I didn’t put oil in between the races but I just wasn’t expecting to be rushed. I drove to the dummy grid but had to get out and head to the toilet. With cars still racing on track I thought it would be fine. As I come out I see the dummy grid heading out on track, driving around the Red Dragon. Crap. I ran down and sorted myself out as quickly as possible, still fiddling with my phones timing app as I drove out on track. It wasn’t the best way to prepare for a race but starting 12th due the reverse grid I wasn’t going to let it stop me and calmed myself down on the warm up lap.
When I got round to the grid I was rather surprised to see only two cars up ahead of me. Only two cars in the front group of ten, that’s the casualty rate in the 2kcup. I was stoked, starting effectively 4th I was in with a shot at a good result. When the lights went out for the first ten cars to go they simply didn’t. It was bizarre. The two cars that should have raced off into the distance must have been confused and it took a flag drop and a marshal waving at them before the took off. Then after ten seconds the flag dropped again and I was off, along with 9 other cars, racing into the first corner. For a lot of the race I was in forth, again slightly faster than the car in front but unable to get past. I would get along side him in some corners but then he would be on the inside for the next one and take his spot back. This happened so many times it was frustrating, but we never touched and it was a good fun battle we had. Even as the faster cars came from the back and just drove past us on the straights like we were standing still I was still battling with that same car. At one point through the final corner I was trying to hold it flat as I had done before. It is scary to take it this fast round the corner over the bumps. This particular time I was slightly too wide and this meant I was off line and sent sliding a little wider still. I didn’t want to lose time and kept the speed up eventually slipping all the way off the side of the track and into the grass a little bit. In my mind I was just like a V8 driver pushing to the limit and beyond, in everyone elses minds I am crazy for taking such a huge risk with the solid concrete wall about a meter away only too happy to smash the car to pieces, I even had another driver come up to me afterwards to comment on that moment. It worked out for me fine, with the car coming back onto the tarmac without issue but I never touched that grass again. In the end the race was shortened and I was glad of it with a train of cars close to catching me behind. This left me 11th as I crossed the line. An amazing result for an MR2 to be 11th out of the 80 cars that took part at the 2kcups first round at Pukekohe.
Dads second race again lacked in the amazing. He changed the tyre between races and was back out to start in 5th thanks to the reverse grid, and with a couple of cars ahead absent he knew he had another good chance at a good result. He got off to a great start and was running in second for 4 odd laps before getting overtaken. In third he knew faster cars would try and come back at him but he might be able to get away. It wasn’t to be with the 6th lap being the last he completed. On the 7th lap the car started to lose power and the noise coming from it started to change. Just before pit entry it went really sour and the car sounded completely different. He brought it straight in, and having been waiting there after my race I went straight over to see him. He was gutted as you can imagine but started it up for me to have a listen and man did it sound wrong, but an awesome kinda wrong. It was noisy as hell and sounded like it had a way more powerful engine than it does. Unfortunately that was Dad out again, he is yet to finish a race this season.
Today we have had the car on the hoist to try find the problem and it was blindingly clear. The exhaust has broken away from the engine, no real idea what would cause that but its clear it will cause a loss of power.
For me it was a great day. Heaps of fun on a new track which requires nerves of steal and results that better reflect where I should be.
For Dad it was another one he won’t mind forgetting but at least the car looks fixable.