Race Report: January - February 2018
Three weekends of back-to-back action and a few hiccups along the way meant no spare time to produce the race reports we normally send out after each round. As a result, we’ve combined our exploits at the 4th and 5th rounds of the Production Race Series and the 2018 Leadfoot Festival into one bumper issue. Enjoy!
Round 4, 2017/2018 ACC Production Race Series, 28 January 2018, Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo
Weather: Sunny until late in the afternoon, then very wet. Temperature hot.
Qualifying: I’d been trying to setup the launch control on the car’s computer and hadn’t quite got it right – and then forgotten to turn it off. The result? We qualified with the launch control engaged and limiting the car toabout 60% throttle. Lining up 15th out of 20 starters was a good reminder to not experiment with the car the day before a race...
Race 1: 8 Lap sprint, qualifying order start.
Starting down the back in a qualifying order start race meant a podium was going to be a big ask. Nonetheless, we’d sorted the computer out and were back to normal, so a clean race and a solid finish was a good start to the days racing.
Result: 7th Overall
Race 2: 8 laps, reverse grid handicap start.
Effectively racing our second handicap of the day but with the faster cars behind us, we had a good opportunity to make up for race 1. An almost race long battle with a pair of quick Honda’s was massive fun – even more so when we came out on top!
Result: 4th Overall
Race 3: 1 hour enduro, random start order.
The temperature had dropped to tolerable levels towards the end of the day which was nice, but the rain that had accompanied that temperature change wasn’t quite so welcome. Still – that’s what we have Subaru AWD for right? For the 1 hour, we were off the front of the pack and shot off the line in the wet conditions to claim the lead into turn 1. It was all going great until 2 laps into the race, a valve inside the engine decided to break leading to an engine running on 3 cylinders. We had to pit and inspect – once we realised that the engine was damaged, there was no choice but to retire.
2018 Leadfoot Festival, 3 & 4 February 2018, Leadfoot Ranch, Hahei, Coromandel
Weather: Variable over the weekend. Temperature warm.
After the engine failure in Taupo, the Hall Speed Sport team and numerous other people pulled an absolute blinder during the week to remove and inspect the old engine, discover that the damage was too serious for it to be reused, then build a new motor, fill it with all the best Motul fluids and get it tuned in time for the 2018 Leadfoot Festival. Massive thanks to all involved!!
Practice Run: Cold ambient temp.
With a hectic previous week, we hadn’t had time to bed in brakes or tyres, and with Rod Millen’s suggestion to ‘take the first run easy if you haven’t been here before’ echoing in my head, that’s exactly what I did. It was a cautious run but we did get some semblance of brakes towards the top of the hill so were feeling good for the rest of the weekend.
Time: 1 min 08 seconds
Run 1: 1st timed run, warm ambient temp.
The sun had come out and feeling a little more confident in the car, I decided to get the hammer down... a little too much it seems... the car got off the line like a rocket, so much so that we got completely airborne over a rise 100m after the start line. When the landing happened, it proceeded to heavily impact and then remove the exhaust halfway under the car. Realising that something wasn’t right I had to keep away from the kerbs but had a pretty good run considering the exhaust dragging along underneath.
Time: 1 min 00 seconds
Run 2: 2nd timed run, cold and raining.
Our group was squeezed in at the end of the day in very wet conditions for our second run. There had been a number of delays due to crashes etc and so the organisers were trying to catch up. Unfortunately the rain was heavy and ‘Millen’s Mile’ is very slippery when wet. We’d removed the damaged section of the exhaust and just ran with a muffler-less exhaust system so at least the car sounded the part! There was nothing to be gained timewise so it was just a chance to better learn the deceptively tricky hillclimb with an eye on Sunday.
Time: 1 min 07 seconds
Run 3: 3rd timed run, raining.
As it turned out, a number of competitors were struggling in the damp runs and this caused more delays. We were only able to get one run on Sunday and whilst not raining as much as the previous run on Saturday, was still wet, and still slippery. The time we set was actually quite good given the conditions, but as only the fastest runs count ultimately there was no chance of a better result. It was a little disappointing to end the event without a good clean run, but you can’t control the weather and as they say ‘that’s motorsport’! It was still an amazing experience and one I’d love to come back to – there’s unfinished business here...
Time: 1 min 02 seconds
Round 5, 2017/2018 ACC Production Race Series, 11 February 2018, Hampton Downs
Weather: Patchy in the morning, then very wet all afternoon. Temperature mild.
Qualifying: The day started wet, but by the time our qualifying session rolled around, the rain had abated and there were some dry patches starting to appear. We went out on our new Yokohama A050’s and managed to put in a time on the very slippery surface that would put us 4th from 19 starters for race 1.
Race 1: 8 Lap sprint, qualifying order start.
The rain had started again and we made the call to switch to our Yokohama AD08R tyre, which are more of a street tyre that can handle a bit of circuit work – they work a lot better in the wet than a full semi-slick like the A050. Unfortunately, whilst we were waiting on the dummy grid, the wind came out and the rain stopped. The track had a definite dry line when the race started and it only increased during the course of the race. This made for some close, exciting racing as the cars around us had tyres more suited to the drying surface, but we managed to hang on for a great finish.
Result: 2nd Overall.
Race 2: 6 laps, reverse grid handicap start.
With the now dry track and a favourable starting positon of 9th for the handicap reverse grid race, we bolted on the A050 semi-slicks with a top finish in sight. Again though,the weather gods were not playing ball and the heavens opened on our warm-up lap. With us stuck on the wrong tyre again, we just had to make the best of the situation. In actual fact the A050’s were better than expected in the wet and enabled us to move up the field a bit as most other competitors had also gone with the dry tyre option. The race finished under safety car, putting a halt to any further overtaking.
Result: 4th Overall
Race 3: 10 lap sprint, random start order.
The rain had well and truly set in for the day so it was finally an easy tyre choice. The race organisers made the call to change the last reverse grid race to a random start to try and minimse overtaking in increasingly worsening conditions. A number of cars had fallen off during the day, so we were down to 13 starters. We lined up in 10th. Our AWD once again showed its value with the perfect start we literally drove around everyone as they struggled to get off the line. Into the lead exiting turn one it was a matter of negotiating the conditions and bringing the car home in one piece. But a race long battle with a quick Alfa Romeo ensued. The Alfa was very well set up for the racetrack turned swimming pool and we couldn’t quite keep it behind us.
Result: 2nd Overall
As always, but even more so after three very busy weeks, I’d like to say a massive ‘thank you’ to the Hall Speed Sport team, various supporters, Subaru of New Zealand, Motul New Zealand, Yokohama tyres NZ, Autolign Mt Wellington, Production Race Series Coordinators and all our Facebook ‘likers’. We couldn’t have done it without their help.