South Island Champs were held in Christchurch, New Zealand. The format was practice Friday, qualifying Saturday and finals Sunday. Unfortunately the weather gods were not being kind to us on Friday so there was no racing at all but 24 hours later was an amazing difference. Finally at mid day we started a shortened day but the track crew had done an amazing job to get it under way.
In Q1 I had set my XB8 with harder sway bars and stiffer springs to accommodate the wet track but as it was drying so fast the XB8 was a bit stiff so it was quite hard to handle. I still set a good time and was sitting at P2 early on.
For the second round I softened the car with 2.4 sway bars all round and back to 2 stripe springs in the rear and the changes were perfect. The XB8 was handling fantastic so I was able to push hard and put nearly 3/4 of a lap on the field. Q3 was the same with the car feeling very stable, a quick tyre change and once again I was able to push hard. At the end of qualifying I was in P2 and the other XRAY team driver Chris Banham was sitting in P4. Chris was running well today too with his XB8, after finding a good set up that suited him he was also very fast on the quickly drying track.
The start of the semi was filled with 2nd corner madness as everyone tried to win the race in the first lap. Thankfully I was able to get away and settle into a fast pace. The track was getting a little rough in a couple of spots but the XB8 was amazing throughout the whole track. I was running the brass weights for the first time this weekend too and the extra stability it gave the car meant I could push through places where I would normally have to slow down. Half way through the semi my pit man called me for fuel, unfortunately I was battling through some lapped traffic and forgot to come in. I ran out of fuel on that lap so the race was on to get back out there. Thankfully I was over a lap ahead by that stage so the run home wasn't too bad finishing the race nearly half a lap ahead of second. Unfortunately Chris Banham had a breakage in his semi and did not make it into the final.
In the final starting on P2 I got away to the perfect start getting away to an 8 second gap on second place. The XB8 was running perfect and I settled into my work quickly. Coming up to the first pit stop I flamed out coming round the back corner. My pitman got me going quickly, but after that stop I was told it had run out of fuel. The FX was running a bit rich as the day started to cool off very fast. I pushed as hard as I could but could not quite make the difference back so ended up 2nd in the A main. The car was dynamic all weekend and I could not be happier.
A big thanks to my sponsors, Team XRAY, FX Royal Racing Engines, Byron Fuel and AKA Tyres. Without their continued support and fantastic products, racing wouldn't be as much fun.
1. Mark Johnston 2. Kent Perry - XB8/FX
3. Ian Rickerby
4. Gage Peters
5. Dave Edhouse
6. Tim McKay
7. Neil White
8. Pj Jones 9. Hunter Burt - XRAY XB9 13
10. Gerard O Loan