The Southern Clash is an event held in Dunedin, New Zealand annually. Nat and I drove down to Dunedin from Christchurch on the Friday before the Southern Clash. The weather was looking a bit grim on arrival in Dunedin. That night the rain came down, but early on Saturday morning it was dry and very grey. We assembled the track and as is traditional for Dunedin, it started raining heavy. A few hours later the track was dry again and hopefully for good.
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As was usual this meeting was run for electric and gas cars in several classes. Several of us from Christchurch had turned up to race as well as the locals and David Beck from Invercargill. As with previous years the track was set up in a huge car park which is dead flat but offers fairly low grip.
During practice most of us were getting the hang of the track and scrubbing in tyres that we would possibly use. The track was pretty fast but there was a couple of difficult corners on the track which I was having some issues with and really had to think about my corner entry speed to get around smoothly. Due to all the racing taking place on one shortened day, it was very hard to make any serious changes to the car in the time between races.
The track temp was generally in the mid 20’s throughout the day with a very cold wind present. This was making tyre choice difficult. Because I was running in the touring modified class (6 cells max and brushless motors) I had to run a tyre hard enough to not overheat late in the race, but also be able to drive ok at the start. I decided on the Sorex 32R for the 1st round of qualifying.
This proved a fairly good choice having a good balance of grip throughout the race but not exactly what I would call perfect. I won the first heat on 21 laps with Mark Harling just behind me in 2nd. I felt sorry for David Beck who had apparently run into a bit of the track fencing which had become unstuck part way through the race. At the time he was coming 1st.
A couple of the guys changed to Sorex 28R tyres for the next round as it did cool down a little. I did not change as I still felt the tyre was slightly overheating at the end of heat 1. A stroke of luck got me a good start and I tried my best to get a gap on the others. Once I got some heat into the tyres I was able to push much harder. This resulted in a 22 lap run. I was happy indeed. Mark Harling was unable to finish this race as a tyre came unglued making his car undrivable.
The third round of qualifying was cancelled due to the rain earlier in the day. This meant I was on pole with fellow XRAY racer Mark Harling 2nd on the grid and Tamiya man David Beck 3rd. Ian was lined up 4th for the finals.
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After we got through the first few corners in the 1st final it seemed that Ian was going to be the man to beat. I had a couple of stupid spins which put me right to the back. I knew Ian had put on Sorex 32R’s for this race so I knew he should be competitive for most of the race and not just the start. Slowly I got my tyres up to temperature and really started pushing the car hard. I was up to 2nd and really giving it my all. Ian was driving consistently indeed out front. Well I started to get near him then got caught on a barrier. Luckily the marshall was quick and I was at it again. Just as before I was really driving the wheels off the car and catching Ian at something like 1 second a lap. Obviously it didn’t take long to be right behind Ian, but as they say its one thing to catch but another thing to pass. On the last lap I made a move at the end of the back straight and got through on him, unfortunately it was a rather ambitious move resulting in me running wide and into the marbles. Ian got back inside me but I kept the trigger down as I was on the inside for the next corner. This didn’t really work out to plan for me as Ian had the better line and took the win. I had nudged into the side of Ian and had a bit of a spin but got control back to cross the line about 2 seconds behind Ian. David Beck came in 3rd place with Mark suffering some sort of handling problem in 4th.
The track had cooled down to around 21 degrees for the 2nd final. I took a gamble along with Ian to change to 28R’s for this race. Almost immediately it was found to be the wrong choice with the car feeling quite loose. This track seemed to heat up the fronts much faster than the rears due to all the fast corners. In this race I really struggled to get round the track at any kind of decent speed. Even though the car was hard to drive I had a good start and actually had a decent gap over the others. As the race went on I caught the fence loosing some valuable time. David Beck was doing really well right behind me. He had opted for 32R’s on the rear and 28R’s on the front as far as I know. His car looked hard to drive at the start as expected, but was pretty good later on. He was doing really well keeping real close to me and pushing me right to the end. Ian had suffered a broken UJ which had effectively taken him out of the competition. I believe this happened to him 3 times during the meeting!!!!
All in all a tough days racing in less that perfect conditions.
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The top 3:
1. Michael Jones XRAY T2'009
2. David Beck
3. Ian Rickerby
I would like to thank Team XRAY and Zoom Resources for the help and also the Dunedin R/C Club for running the event.