A week before the event it was doubtful we’d even attend, while doing the last Friday practice of the year the rear axle snapped as we changed the wheel and torqued it up.
Straight to the engineer and it was “about 2 days and $1000”, a post on the best UK sidecar site resulted in nothing and it was only when LP racing came to the party with a spare which they sent down to us meant we were back in with a chance.
Checked for straightness and then crack tested to be on the safe side along with a bunch of measurements as it was from a latter model and it was all looking good.
Reassembled and just about good to go we loaded up, the Earthquakes munted the travel plans up the East Coast so we headed off about 12.30am, first stop was to pick up Goober, second stop was Springs Junction for gas which was fairly busy for the time of the morning we were there, next stop was St Arnaud to throw up the pie I’d bought at Springs.
We ended up way earlier than we’d thought so got ourselves booked for an earlier ferry and wandered off for breakfast.
Will disappeared once onboard and i grabbed a cabin and me and Goober tried to get some sleep (separate beds) we could feel the boat bouncing up and down and later found out 3.5-4m swells and Will reported people being sick all over the place where he was.
Out of Welly and a straight run through to Wangas to book in at the motel, once done we went and walked the track and did a couple of laps in the van.
Christmas day was a late start and once we got up we went and set up to finish a couple of jobs before scrutineering, change of brake pads and bled the brakes, nut and bolt check and we were good to go.
Straight through scrutineering without a problem and then a lot of dicking about catching up with people and a good look at John Holden’s outfit, then back to Motel where Goober does us tea on the Bbq .
Boxing Day and we’re up early and down to grab our spot and settle in.
We’re taking it pretty easy as we’re bedding in some brake pads and re familiarising ourselves with the circuit.
Most of the teams pass and pull away and we’re not pushing it very hard at all and a few seconds off what we can do.
Maybe it’s my imagination but each year it seems to get bumpier.
Reeves/Wilkes are fastest by a couple of seconds.
We ramp it up a bit and knock 4 seconds off which is still only good enough for P12 and is just slightly off our best from the previous year.
We see Reeves/Wilkes parked up at Robert Holden and find out later they’d suffered some damage and were out for the event which put Holden/Shorter on pole with Unsworth/Dawe alongside.
The start is good but so is everyone else’s.
We get passed Roberts/Bilby and McArthur/New on the first lap and we hang in with the bunch in front of us for a few laps.
We’re right behind Staples/O’Donnell out of T2 when he runs a bit wide and we scoot past and down across the railway, a lap later he goes back in front and starts to pull away.
¾ race distance and I’m knackered, the bumps feel like they’re beating the crap out of me and when Roberts/Bilby get back in font on lap 6 I don’t have the energy to chase them back down and we finish in 10th having made up a couple of spots from our qualifying position.
We do the usual check over between races and Goober finds out he doesn’t have a passenger anymore after Darren has an off in the classic sidecar race so calls it quits.
The starts no better than anyone else and we keep the group in front of us in sight for a few laps then they start edging away.
Across the railway line and Neville is bouncing down the track getting ready for his beer shout, Lance doesn’t seem to notice and does a couple of laps without him.
Roberts/Bilby come by on lap 5 and start pulling away, my chest pad has moved and I’m taking a lot of weight on my arms which has worn me out and along with the bumps causing my vision to blur over them I’m at the point of pulling out.
We come across the bridge and I see the white flag about the same time McArthur/New pass us, I figure I can last another lap and get back in front of them and lead them for the last lap to finish 9th.
Our best lap for the day was a little faster than we’ve been before but still not where I know the outfit is capable of.
Packed up and back to the motel and an early night to get ready for an early morning
Up and on the road at 4 am and down to the ferry, Will grabs us the 2nd to last cabin and we bunk down just in time to hear “gale warning in Cook Strait” over the PA system, anyway if it was rough I slept through it.
6 hours after the boat gets and about the same amount of constant criticism of Goobers driving in we’re pulling in the driveway at home trip over.
Dave Hewer and Kiwibike insurance
Matt Southron and Peter (Pig) Macefield and Independent line services
Scott McCone and McGregor Motorsport
Joanne van der Westhuizen