Mike Fraser competed in WRT102 on Sunday in the first round of the ORANZ North Island National Rounds at Meremere hosted by the All Terrain Racing Club.
We spent last week repairing the right rear trailing arm, repairing also the fuel tank which was split from the last event and carrying out our routine race preparation in the workshop.
On a wet Saturday we loaded up WRT102 onto the WRT trailer and headed out to Leader Products, the venue for driver registration and vehicle scrutineering.
The rain cleared and after successfully getting WRT102 through scrutineering, we were able to spend a bit of time checking out the rest of the vehicles on display including new cars and then some old cars with new paint jobs and also some old cars with new modifications.
Was certainly great to mix and mingle and this all added to the excitement for the weekend.
Certainly seemed like there were going to be plenty of entries, especially when we considered “out of town” entrants were allowed to be scrutineered on race day the following day so were not here today.
Sunday morning dawned a bit drizzly in Auckland but soon cleared once we had cleared the Bombay’s heading south to the track at Meremere.
Arriving at the track, we soon had WRT102 unloaded and our pit area setup good to go (tools, tyres, chairs, chilly bin, spares, fuel, driver safety equipment etc) – we were ready.
With plenty of time on our side, we were able to walk the pits and view the rest of the machinery on display.
It was good to see the boys from the Palmerston North club had trundled their way up North and were there in force with my old man Peter Hogg in his Class 3, Martin van der Wal in his Class 8 (and current Class 8 National Champ), William van der Wal in his new Prolite based Class 8 and Ivan Booth in his newly acquired Class 5 – the buggers even nabbed a couple of trophies with Dad taking 2nd place in Class 3 and Martin taking 2nd place in Class 8 for the day – another daylight raid by our hillbilly mates!!
The pits are certainly very impressive nowadays, with immaculately prepared race cars and race trailers, sponsors flags and banners, ezyup gazebos galore – it was great to see and as a sponsor, was also great to see the importance placed on getting the class sponsor decals onto the vehicles.
After the “out of town” entrants were scrutineered, the drivers briefing was held and everybody was given the outline and run down for the day.
There were going to be four races for the day for each of the groups including 3 x 5 lap sprint races and 1 x 15 lap all-in feature race.
The Class 1 vehicles (unlimited 2WD buggies) were grouped with Class 3’s (1600cc buggies) and the Class 9 vehicles (unlimited vehicle with manufacturers body type – i.e. Baja bugs etc).
The other Class 1 vehicles on show today were Tony McCall, Mal Langley, Clim Tristrim Lammers, Paul Smith, Clive Thornton, Paul Eayrs and Alan Hilliam – pretty much a lot of the top drivers in the North Island and covered everything from turbos to injected V8’s.
Other groups racing were 1) Kiwitruck J’s and M’s, 2) Challengers, Class 7’s, Class R’s and Class 10’s, 3) Class 5’s, 4) Class 1’s, Class 3’s and Class 9’s, 5) Class 8 and 6) Class 2’s, 4’s and 6’s)
First race was very wet after all the rain during the previous weeks, but as the day went on the track conditions improved into a great track, albeit with some massive holes developing in places around the course – crikey you gotta love offroad racing!
Mike was like a proverbial “pig in #*&^” and did bloody well during the day, at times getting himself into the lead during a couple of the races and finished the days racing with a couple of thirds as his best results and also managed to finish every race, albeit only just in the feature race!
The racing was intense and wheel to wheel, even wheel on wheel and in some case wheels on bodies as everybody competed as hard as they could for positions. It was good old fashioned racing at its best, fast cars, good fields and close racing!
As with previous events that WRT102 had been entered, this event was a good learning curve for the setup of the car as we played around with tyre pressures, tyres (changing to hand cut tyres for the first race), adjusting bump stop pressures etc.
We had not realised that we had the car set up with some toe-in on the front which we believe contributed to the amount of feedback through the steering wheel, but we were unable to adjust this on the day, as we did not have enough adjustment in the steering arm rod ends.
Disaster came for WRT102 when in the last race of the day when the gearbox finally blew up, and although Mike was able to finish the race, the gearbox didn’t sound great with all the clunks and knocks coming from it – blowing the gearbox up had been a long time coming and we’d been surprised we’d been able to get away with it like we had – but t’is no more – so time to park it up in the corner of the workshop and save some pennies and get on with an gearbox upgrade!
Not sure of the individual placing’s for each of the Class 1 races except that Tony McCall pretty much out and out dominated Class 1, so much so that he lapped the rest of the Class 1 field in the feature race only to be lapped himself by the rest of the field as he stopped short of the Start / Finish with a few laps to go unable to restart the car to finish the race with I believe more fuel issues. Can’t have hurt his results too badly as he finished 1st overall in Class for the day!
Overall, another great day for the sport, a shame about the gearbox but we knew we were living on the edge with it, but awesome to be out there amongst it!
Congratulations to ATR for an awesome event!
Ernie – Wilco Racing Team