...Well our first meeting anyway. After our early season drama and having the engine pack it in at practice we got the engine back in on Friday night and got the car ready for the Robin Pratt Memorial night at Palmerston North. Racing on Robin Pratt night is a huge honour for every driver in every class as it is run in the memory of a truly great stockcar driver from Palmerston North.
So with the engine back in the car and new diff with a longer right axle installed, we were ready for our season debut. I drew Grid 5 for race one and Grid 10 for the second race. With messages ringing in my ear about taking it easy and wearing the engine back into race mode we formed up the grid for the race. I managed to follow 82p Jamie Larsen through some early traffic and through to around about 3rd by the first lap. I then managed to pull a quick move on Jamie as he moved wide to pass 34p Allen Burton. I managed to pull a similar move on Allen and worked my way into the lead. I got 6 laps out in front to "wear the engine in". I cruised home for a win including the lap record from ex racer Sean Rice.
The second race was alot more difficult. With not all cars gridding up properly I ended up starting from about grid 13 instead of grid 10. Adding to this the traffic off the start was alot more conjested, as 4w Shane Simpson experienced first hand: tipping onto almost horizontal and all but rolled. After working my way through the crash site I tracked down 21w Stephen Taylor and got clear of him to move onto the next pack. Given a few more laps I could have possibly done something with this group however because of the shortness I had to settle for 7th.
The third race, and feature, was my best drive of the night. I started from Grid 12 as it was the top point scorers off the back. The start was fairly clean this time with everyone making it around the first corner with no drama. 93p Declan Roe and I picked our way through the traffic within a few laps. He managed to get a good break on me whilst trying to pass some traffic. This was the decisive break in the race as he managed to streak away and take a well deserved win. A few hairy moments for me as on the warm down lap the Oil light came on. It turned out to only be the receivers in the sensor and was no trouble at all, however it had me on the edge of my seat.
So all and all a great night for me, finishing three races for starters and managing to pick up a win and a second with the car handling fantastic, the team and I were really happy with the car and the night. Congratulations to 1nz Peter Rees for taking out the Robin Pratt Memorial for the 5th time, another Hartley Engine up the front ;).
Next weekend's meeting: Wellington Speedway. Start time: 7pm.