Monday, 15 October 2012

Eden Park Raceway . . . Winter Series Rnd1

I am really just a big kid at heart.
That being so it is not unusual for me to get excited before a race day, especially if I am visiting a track I haven't raced at before.
So you can imagine how I felt when last Sunday dawned and the sun was shining, I couldn't wait to load the car, jump in and head for Eden Park Raceway.

I set off into sunrise like a child on his way to the seaside.

Eden Park Raceway has had its ups and downs.
In 1999, having once been the premier race track in the South, it was forced, due to various problems, to close its doors. In 2007 a dedicated group of racers decided to resurrect this once revered venue and after much hard work on the track and facilities refurbished it to the high standard you see here.
Well done guys.

Today was the first round of their winter series comprising 6 rounds to be run on the first Sunday of each month from October 2012 through to March 2013.

Autumn has arrived but despite the frosty conditions there was a good turn out of around 50 drivers.
There was a good mix with representatives from some of the big brands across all the 'F' grades.

I had decided to give the SX2 a last hurrah before defecting to the better supported 2wd class.
I love my SX2 though so she will definitely be staying in the Pipski garage to be wheeled out from time to time. 

The conditions were tricky for the early part of the day so most people were taking full advantage of the practice time to test a variety of different tyres, none of which really seemed to work!

I took the time to bimble round and learn where the track turns left and right in the hope that I might be able to do the same, at least most of the time.
Like all good tracks EPR is easy to get round but very difficult to master. The surface consists mainly of astro of varying age interspersed with tricky and fast concrete sections. Add to the mix various lumps and bumps, a table top and a fantastic bomb hole and you end up with a cracking track.

The format for the day was to be 4 qualifiers followed by a single final for all.

Love 'em or hate 'em there was a heat of stadium trucks. It seems there is some interest in these around the clubs at the moment.
Watch out for them at a track near you.

The early rounds were tricky as the astro was very slippery. Grip started to come up as the sun got higher but parts of the track remained in the shade making tyre choice difficult.
The more laps I got under my belt the better I liked the track.

Conditions saw to it that things didn't quite go to plan for everybody including Mason 'wooly hat' Sadler who had to dip into his spares box early in the day.

The table top.
I never did quite decide whether to jump over it or onto the top of it. Over was the slightly quicker but much riskier option.

It's made all the more difficult as the landing is significantly lower than the take off and is immediately followed by a kink into a 90 degree left.

Even the apparently innocuous sections weren't as straightforward as they appeared and were always ready to catch out the unwary.
There is one fast line through the concrete ripples, get it wrong and you'll find yourself waiting for the attention of a marshal.

 Top work Chris.

Time for lunch after a tricky mornings qualifying, I was glad to have bought flask on this nippy day.

It took me a couple of heats to get to grips with a new track but I got faster as the day went on and was quite pleased with my fifth place at the end of qualifying.

Just in case you forget where you are there is a great big reminder on the banked sweeper for you every single lap. The sweeper exits onto a fast astro straight which is great in the dry but demands respect in the damp.

There was some great close racing in the finals, for most.
I was full of enthusiasm, it was drying out and I thought I was getting the hang of the track.
Oh how wrong I was!
Anyone who has run a GM esc will understand when I tell you I stalled on the start line.
The buzzer went, I hit the gas and . . . Nothing!
I was very lucky not to get collected by the cars behind but not so lucky to be getting away stone last.
I had a job on my hands to battle back through the field, yet again this was not to be.
I munched a gear in my servo, I think from an awkward landing, putting me out of the race after just a couple of laps.
That. as they say, is racing.

A nod of respect for the servo in question which is a Futaba 9451. I purchased this used a few years back since when it has served me well in all sorts of cars including gas tourers and even 1/8 buggies. Moreover she's not dead yet, all that popped was the nylon 1st gear and a $3 replacement is winging its way from the U.S. as I write.

This is at the exit to the bomb hole, the key to getting a good exit from here is to get a good entry.
Get the line right and it's very satisfying.

My first visit to EPR will definitely not be my last, it has immediately established itself as a favourite of mine.
It's a fun track and the crew run a well organised meeting, always a bonus.

Top honours on the day went to:
2wd, Ellis Stafford
4wd, Nic Child
Well done chaps.

Full results from the day can be found by following the link:  HERE (Click me)

I will endeavour to be at as many of the winter rounds as I can.
But next time I reckon I'll be rockin' the SVR.

My advice to you dear reader is to be there or be square.

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