It was 10 days out from the Waikato Champs and the track was still not completely finished, Hamilton had a history of producing some great tracks to race on and we were all keen to see what the club had managed to produce. It came right down to the wire with the weather not playing nice for the weeks prior to the event. HRCCC managed to pull through and produce a really interesting and challenging track which took some practice before being able to put in consistent laps.
It was a record event entry with 168 truggys/buggys and electric buggy over 2 days. Qualifying was a bit of a blur, I had some bad luck in truggy causing me to have 2 bad rounds which meant I only managed to qualify in to the quarter finals. Buggy was a different story I was able to keep nice and consistent and I ended up qualifying 3rd just ahead of fellow team Xray driver Kent Perry.
Truggy quarter final started off a bit rough I had made a bad call on tyre compound and was really fighting to stay consistent. I managed to get in to a bit of a groove and won the quarter, next I was up in the semi. I changed my tires and compound in the hope it would be much better than the quarter – and it was!!! After 7 laps I had managed to work my way from 10th on the grid to 2nd in the semi. Everything seemed to be going very well At around the 20 minute mark I had the screw of my upper rear camber link come off, the crew had to scramble to find another screw and nut and unfortunately it was not quick enough for me to make a bump up spot.
In buggy I was up in the even semi which was just after the odd semi, after a few bobbles at the start I settled in to first place. I could feel the car was absolutely dialed. I managed to set the fastest lap of both the semifinals and I managed to beat 1st place in the odd semifinal by almost 40 seconds!!
It was time for the final and I had chosen to leave the car exactly as it was due to the setup being absolutely perfect! The final started and the aim was to stay on my wheels which I managed for the first lap and then I made a few mistakes and it put me back to 7th place on the 4th lap. I had to re-gather my thoughts and start driving more consistently. Kent had managed to stay consistent and was up in 2nd place not far behind first and was doing very well. As we came up for the first lot of fuel stops I had managed to work my way back to 3rd and on my lap to come in for fuel I jumped over a rhythm section in a far part of the track and got it wrong! The center of the car landed directly on the top of the jump and my engine flamed. I had a 118 second lap and knew I now had my work cut out for me as I was almost 2 laps down.
After my flame out fellow Xray team driver Kent was still battling it out for 1st place and managed to take it on the 19th lap there was a battle that followed but Kent was able to get the edge on Jerry securing 1st place with a small lead. On the 41st lap Jerry (in 2nd place) had a problem and had a really bad lap. He ended up retiring after another 10 mins or so. This put Kent driving his Xray XB9 with a very similar setup to mine in 1st place with just on a lap on everyone! At just over 5 mins remaining Kent was in 1st (after leading the race for some time now)and I was in 3rd after driving incredibly hard and making up over a lap on the field due to my earlier flame out. I was trying to catch 2nd and then with 4 mins to go Kent had a problem with his grub screw on the rear cvd shaft this unfortunate turn of events meant that the fight for the win was on between myself and Andrew. I was faster and was able to make ground but as I was pushing harder to catch up I was starting to make mistakes. I ended up finishing 2nd 11 seconds behind Andrew and Kent ended up in 4th after his problem. Whilst it was disappointing to have the flame out I was still very happy with 2nd considering the level of competition. Out of the 3 XB9’s in the final 1 of them lead the race for a large part and the other set the fastest laps for the race. This is a testament to the car’s ability, if Kent hadn’t been so unlucky the XB9 would have taken the win with over a lap ahead of 2nd place!
1. Andrew Webber 2. Chris Banham - XRAY XB9
3. Craig Underwood 4. Kent Perry - XRAY XB9
5. Jonathan Thompson
6. Adrian Lorenzen
7. Dave Edhouse 8. Graeme McDougal - XRAY XB9
9. Jerry Davis
10. Neil White 11. Gavin Davidson - XRAY XB9
12. Jordan Burley