We will bring you news of any Club Members (past or present) that are racing nationally or overseas.
We drove to Auckland on the Tuesday morning in preparation for the flight to Melbourne at 9:30...arriving at Tullamarine just after midnight. A 20 minute cab ride to collect the rental van from Tim and Alex’s house in Moonee Ponds was followed by a 45 minute drive to Noble Park and the hotel. We all flopped into bed, exhausted to try and get some sleep. Once we awoke on Wednesday morning, we drove back to the city to collect the practice engine and organised to put the kart together back at the hotel room! We decided to hit the track at 5 in the afternoon for some practice, as the temperature had dropped to around 40°. A couple of runs later, and it was still difficult to determine setup and whether we had the required speed or not. Thankfully, Tim and Tyler O’Leary looked over the kart, gave us some advice and loaned us an axle to try. We made the changes overnight and headed back to the track on Thursday. The temperature had hit 44° this day, making it unrealistic to do too many sessions as Thomas was suffering in the extreme heat. Luckily the changes we had made put us within 0.5s of where we needed to be and it was at this point we got a visit from the top engine builder who delivered us his #1 engine to try out (what a legend you are Brett!). We fitted the engine overnight and returned to the track ready for action at 12pm on Friday. We practised until 2pm and were pleased to realise we had genuine pace! Thomas had his eye in with regard to the track and the low-grip Dunlop tyres, the unfamiliar chassis, the tight, twisty and technical track, so we headed to drivers briefing optimistic we could be competitive!
Thomas went out and posted the 2nd fastest time of 47.253s. He started the two heats in 2nd place and finished 3rd in H1 by 1/1000th of a second from Braydon Callaghan. He then backed this up with another 3rd in H2 behind the current Tasmanian champion, Taylor Gill. This gave him grid 2 for the final and this was a thrilling race to watch. After a lengthy job to rehydrate and get his core body temperature down to a reasonable level with ice cold towels and shirts straight from the chilly bin, we prepared for the final. He got a great start and chased local driver George Gower for 14 of the 15 laps, working with George to pull out a lead over the rest of the pack. Then, with an amazing pass at Arrow corner, he ducked under George to cross the line 1/10th of a second for the win! The team went crazy! Such a great drive to a well-deserved 1st place and Round 1 win for the meeting. Thomas was ecstatic to stand on the top step of the podium to receive his trophy and we were equally as proud to cheer him on.
The Saturday was not as hot, but still around 35°, so a challenge nevertheless. Thomas posted the fastest qualifying time of 46.694 (the second fastest for the entire weekend!) which is just over 2/10ths off the lap record. He started H1 off pole position and was pipped late in the race by 3/100ths of a second by George Gower, another brilliant race between these two drivers. Then in H2, Thomas led the race from start to finish and was heading for a heat win, when the chain fell off the sprocket with 4 corners to go!! This was unbelievable to watch as the chain and sprocket showed no signs of misalignment, looseness or any other reason why this may have happened. The resulting 18th position meant Thomas had to start the final from G9 which was not ideal...but that’s the way it is. During the start, Thomas was hit from behind as the pack crossed the start line, resulting in a bent rear axle and a DNF...pretty disappointing! Robert had some robust discussion with the officials as to why Thomas was not allowed to re-join the full race restart, but they deemed him out of the race as “he was stationary when the red lights came on and was not eligible for a restart under the Australian rules”...pretty annoying! After realising our day was done, we packed up and attended prizegiving. We were surprised to see that even with an 18th and a DNF in the final, Thomas still finished up 5th overall....a silver lining to a dark cloud! The bonus was that current Kiwi V8 Supercar driver, Scott McLaughlin, was the special guest presenting the trophies, so we met him and had a great chat. Feeling pretty happy overall, the team returned to New Zealand on Monday, 20 January. The event was a success in so many ways and we’d like to thank the following people:
Grandad Barney.....battled the heat and never lost his cool...awesome support….THANKS!
Donna for her hard work keeping Thomas hydrated and in good racing condition
Tim and Tyler O’Leary for their outstanding support and advice to help us go as fast as we could.... congrats to Tyler for winning the Rookies class and becoming 2014 Akebono Brakes Top Gun!!!
Tim and Tex McKoy and Alex for loaning us the chassis and being so nice to us and helping us in so many ways, we’re indebted to you all, thank you!
Paul and Lyn Hes for coming to the track, taking the photos and supporting us...and for taking us fishing on Sunday to wind-down.... cheers!
Brett for providing us great horsepower!
Plant & Platform Consultants for their on-going support
The Sign Shop in New Plymouth
Maurice Frost of Supreme Kart Supplies for all his help over the years
David Cox at RoTech Automotive for his assistance to get to Melbourne
Barry and Corinne Boniface for your help and support also
and all the well-wishers from KartSport Taranaki and around the country