Please scroll down to see all the entries for October - December 2013
SummerX, 28 December 2013, Whakatane
We had driven up on Friday and stayed with friends (Thanks Andrew and Anita for your hospitality!). On Saturday morning we drove to the Awakaponga MX track just North of Whakatane where Summer Cross is held each year in last w/e of December.
Apart from a few slippery spots in practice as result of a little rain over the night, the track was perfect for MX the whole day. (Sadly this did not carry on for Sunday as torrential rain made it the worst day of MX in NZ for 2014).
In practice Vinny had two crashes. He stayed down after the second one and had a very sore arm. Luckily nothing broken only a few additions to his array of bruises and scrapes. As a result he never managed a good time in the time trials and ended up qualifying 31'st out of 34 riders. But this was not a concern as all riders would qualify as there is 40 start gates here. We also managed to got a good gate in all three races.
Vinny got a good start in Race 1 and was approx 12'th at the holeshot corner. But then he got T-boned and went down causing a pileup of approx a dozen riders. When he got going again he was last. With pieces of the bikes plastic broken and hanging he slowly clawed his was up and finished in 23'rd.
In Race 2 Vinny again started well and was for a split second in the lead, buthe slowed down for the first corner and came out in 12'th. He held that position until last lap where he sadly crashed in a deep rut and finished 18'th.
One more good start saw Vinny finish 14'th in his last race that had no hairy moments apart from in the last corner (see vid) where another rider crashed in to his backwheel. But Vinny hardly noticed this and carried on. (The other rider, Jacob, did not finish the race as a result).
Vinny finished 18'th in the Championships. His confidence grew as he learnt the track, but we had hoped for a little higher placing. But when taking in to account that he only finished 3 points from 12'th place and he had 2 crashes, we know he can do better.
We came here with 4 goals:
- To finish every race
- To finish inside top 15
- To not crash
- To beat the two boys he has all year measured himself against.
We achieved 1 1/2 of those goals:
- Vinny finished every race.
- Vinny did not finish inside top 15.
- He had two crashes.
- He beat Jacob but not Zac.
Vinny scored him self 6/10 for the day. But as Vinny will in 2014 ride in the same 12-13yo class we will work on a much better result. Ultimately a podium finish is the goal. We have decided to race on this track through the winter to get more familiar with it and work on his speed and technique.
Saturday 14 December, Speedcross practice at Taupo
Ben Townley had been to see the Solo Speedway Grand Prix at Western Springs in April and came away wanting to somehow incorporate the fast and spectator friendly racing in to Motocross.
The result is Speedcross. Raced on a simplified Super Cross track with 4 riders over 4 laps. The Taupo club had been convinced to re-shape their Supercross track, and apart from some trials by Ben and some of his close friends, this was the first official practice.
The riders were put in to groups based on their class and Vinny rode in a group of six 85cc and two 65cc bikes. They got six practices of ten laps on a hot and sunny afternoon. After the first practice Vinny was not really sure. But after practice three he was loving it. With 3 table tops, 4 corners and a whoops section it was easy to learn the track even if mastering it will take time. We already knew that Vinny needs to work on his jumps, but here it became very obvious, as teo of the 85cc riders mastered the table tops perfectly and jumped them fully each time. Vinny's jumps got longer as the day went on, but there is much more work to do. We will be back next time!
Sunday 15 December, Club Day at Kapi Mana in Upper Hutt Wellington
With Summer Cross in Whakatane (one of the bigger events on the yearly MX calendar) only two weeks away, we wanted practice on a track that was similar. So on Sunday we travelled to the Kapi Mana track in Upper Hutt.
Vinny likes this track as it has a bunch of challenges without being over the top tricky. The day was about free riding, but this suited us well as it allowed Vinny to work on his jumps. There is a double that he did not take on, but apart from that all went well. As we did not want any injuries for Summer Cross it was perfect.
All Juniors were riding as one group and Vinny managed three 25 minute sessions in the sun before we packed up and left for home. Now we will have some time off from MX over Christmas, but from 28 December it all starts again with January already being fully booked!
Sunday 8 December 2013, HBMCC 1 1/2h Cross country, Round 3 (final)
On Saturday we were to race in the Valley Champs at Patetonga, but poor weather had made the club postpone the Champs until January. We had plans of riding in Wanganui on Sunday, but promise of rain made us change our mind.
The Hawke’s Bay club holds an annual XC series where Juniors ride 1 ½ hour and Seniors 2 hours. We entered in the first round earlier in the year, but Vinny’s bike developed a faulty stator and he never got further than a quarter of a lap in practice. We also missed the second round as a result of other commitments
The track was a 3Km loop on a farm half an hour north of Napier. Ten 85cc and seven 125cc riders turned up for the Junior ride, some of them dedicated Cross Country riders. The both Junior classes would ride together but be scored separately. Vinny got a good start and at end of lap one there was one 85cc bike and three 125cc ones ahead of him. We had agreed that Vinny would ride for 30 minutes before stopping for fuel and a drink. This made it a two pit stop race. With approx. 20-30 seconds used to fill fuel and have a drink it worked out well. Apart from once getting stuck in a slippery and steep uphill, Vinnys riding went well and with him completing 19 laps, he placed second in the 85cc class behind an older rider.
As we have focused on MX and Vinny has done all his competing on MX tracks in the last two years we were surprised that he did so well against dedicated XC riders. One of the XC riders goes in same class as Vinny at school and they have had a friendly argument going on re who is faster. With Vinny lapping the other boy twice they now have the answer…
Sunday 1 December, final round (Round 4) Manawatu-Orion MCC Club Champs, Feilding
After Round 2 Vinny had been sitting in 2'nd place in the 8-11yo 85cc Champs. And with two more rounds to go the plan was to race hard and win the series. unfortunatley the 4 weeks he had off as a result of his broken right hand stopped him from racing in Round 3. So now the pressure was off, as he had no chance to take the win anymore. And as only the two first races would be scored today (allowing the organisers time to calculate the points for the pricegiving after the meeting) Vinny would be struggling to get a podium as all others had raced in all three rounds sofar.
This round was held on a natural terrain in Feilding. A nice fast track had been marked up over terrain that had a good flow. The sun popped in and out between clouds, but it was cold as the wind was very strong and chilly.
Vinny looked good and fast in practice, and back in the pits he felt he could race hard here as the track suited him. The two classes (8-11yo and 12-16yo) would race together but be scored separately making it 22 riders on the starting line.
In race 1 Vinny was second at the holeshot from all riders and at end of lap one he was sitting in fifth with only riders from the 12-16yo class in-front of him. The closest rider from his 8-11yo class was approx 14'th. Vinny did race hard (as promised) and looked really good. He lost a few places more and finished in 8 in the whole field, but easily winning his grade.
In race 2 Vinny again had a brilliant start and was once again 2'nd at the holeshot from the complete field. At end of the first lap he was in 4'th position with some of the top 12-16yo riders well behind him! (And clearly far ahead of the rest in his class). After lap two Vinny was in fifth and he held that place for two more laps. He then crashed in to another rider in a corner. When Vinny got back up racing he was down in 12'th place. But still well ahead of any other 8-11 yo riders. He managed to climb up a few placings and finished in 9'th place in the whole field.
There were some 'fun races" held after and Vinny happily participated in them.
Last w/e in Nelson Vinny did do well to place 3'rd, but today it was a totally different Vinny who came to fight. If this is the trend forward then he should do well at the last meetings of the year. But it will be tough as he will ride at Valley Champs in Patetnga in the 12-16yo class, and at Summercross in Whakatane in the 12-13yo class meaning that it will be hard for him to get a podium.
Vinny placed 3'rd in the Champs with 183 points. Sadly the club misscalculated and another rider was given the honour of getting up on the podium in 3'rd (he had 156 points). Mistakes happen. But considering that Vinny missed one round we are happy with 3'rd overall!
23-24 November 2013. Top Of The South MX Champs, Takaka Nelson
We had never before raced in South Island, main reasons clearly cost and travel distance/time. But with Vinny missing a month of racing as a result of his broken hand we felt it was justified to race here. (A BIG thanks to Sandra for making this possible!!). This would be Vinny's second time in SI, but as the first time was when he was only 1 1/2 yo, he had no memories of ever being on the ferry etc.
We left 8am on Friday and arrived at our accommodation (Shambhala, a yoga centre across the road from the track. Very reasonable priced and good beds. All we needed!) 14 hours later at 10pm and went straight to bed.
Next morning we were at the track 7.30am. We parked in the big pits and walked up the hill (I would walk up and down this hill all w/e, good for me actually...) to sign in. Vinny's name was not in the programme, apparently his entry (emailed) had not been seen. But as the money was in the account we filled in a hard-copy and he was OK to race.
All three grades of the 85cc were running together (but were scored separately). There were only 2 in the 8-10yo class, the other two classes, 11-12yo and 13-16yo, both had 8 riders each. There had been concern re the lack of riders in many of the classes, but the decision to run the event had been made. And that was good as we had two days of brilliant racing! (The ones who did not race here really missed out! The track was challenging w/o any really dangerous spots, you could see the whole track from the spectator area, the people were nice. And the pricegiving was very plesant! We are seriously considering coming back!!)
In practice Vinny had a small crash but got up quickly. He liked the track and we were ready to race!
In race 1 three of the riders were not able to get to the starting gate in time and only 15 took off. (The three of them started a lap later). It was obvious that Vinny used this race to "settle in". He raced well but a fraction cautiously and placed 4'th in his grade.
To "mix it up" the organisers had decided to replace race two with three 2-lap sprint races that were all scored seprately as normal races. All three were straight after each other and it made it tough for some of the riders)
In race 2 Vinny got a good start and was in top five at holeshot corner, but got pushed to the inside and crashed. When he got back up he was last. As this was only a two lap sprint race there was not much time to climb back up. He managed to claim a 6'th at the chequered flag in his grade. Not what we had planned, but there was still far to go.
Race 3 went well even if Vinny still had some catching up to do. He was around 10'th overall at the holeshot and finished 4'th in his grade.
Race 4 was the last of the sprint races and Vinnys best race of the weekend. His start got him 3'rd at holeshot from all riders and he placed 2'nd in his grade by coming 6'th in the whole field.
Race 5 was back to normal 6 lap racing. An average start and a crash in a corner in middle of the race stopped Vinny from challening for top placings but he still finished 4'th in his class. This put Vinny in 3'rd after day one. Apart from Vinny's one 2'nd finish he had been struggling to challenge the two top guys and with a few mistakes added to his riding we felt happy with this. He was 12 points ahead of the rider in 4'th but 18 points behind 2'nd place. As the second day would only have two races we decided to ride to secure third overall.
After an afternoon of some sightseeing (we went to Cape Farwell) and swimming in the sea at one of the beautiful beaches in this area (where we saw a big stingray swim past a couple of meters away from us), an early night was in place.
Day two was another hot and sunny day and the organisers had spent many hours getting water in to the track. This made it slippery first thing, and Vinny had his worst crash of the w/e in practice. He highsided, hit his ribs in the handlebars and ended up on the ground 5 meters from his bike badly winded. It looked bad, but back in the pits we found that the bike was OK and apart from some bruising on his chest Vinny was also OK.
In race 6 (first race on second day) Vinny was clearly still feeling the crash. He had one more small spill and finished 5'th. Thou he was still securely in 3'rd in the Champs.
Race 7 saw Vinny back to his normal riding. He rode securely and came 4'th easily securing 3'rd in the champs. On the way home we felt, all taken in to consideration, that we were happy with the outcome. But we also realise that there is a big hill to climb to get Vinny to where we are aiming: the top spot of the podium at championship meetings.
One lap of the track: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9O62Tbxkwwo
L to R: 1'st Hayze Shuttleworth, 2'nd Max Singleton, 3'rd Vinny
Sunday 17 November, Hawke's Bay Champs R3 (final) Crownthorpe Hastings
It was four weeks since Vinny broke his thumb. The cast had come off on Tuesday so this would be the test if the hand was good enough to race with, or if he would have to wait longer. We had initially planned to race at the Auckland Champs this weekend. But then decided against it as it would have been two very competetive days of racing against top riders, and it would have been too early for that. Four weeks with no racing and a hand that was hurting was not the best preparation for a Championship, so we pulled the plug on that one.
This HB Champs was a three round one. Vinny had missed the two first rounds with his broken hand, so he had no points coming in to today. Therefore there was no chance for him to place well. This meant that it was a perfect scenarion for Vinny; he could race his own race and not put too much pressure on the hand. Well, that was the plan anyhow...
Seven riders lined up for the 8-12yo 85cc class to race on the natural terrain track with a good flow and some sharp corners. Once at the start any plans of taking it easy were gone for Vinny and he flew ut of the gate to have a good lead at the holeshot. Jacob followed him and as he caught up he was looking for a way past. Vinny covered the inside at a fast corner but Jacob passed him on the outside. The two of them created a good lead over the rest, but at end of lap one Jacob pulled off to check what was wrong with his bike. (We learned later that he had a blocked main jet). This handed the lead to Vinny. He stayed in the lead for three laps, but then went wide in a corner and grabbed too much throttle with the bike spinning around as a result. He was up quickly in third place. But even if he started to reel in the two ahead of him he did not have enough laps left to complete the job and finished third.
Back in the pits Vinny's hand was hurting from the racing, but not more than to tell him that he needed to take care. The second race started very much the same as the first one. Vinny got the holeshot, Jacob followed and then passed (this time on the inside a fraction later than in the first race). Vinny tried to hang on, but the hand had by now started to hurt more and at approx half of the race I noticed that he slowed down a little. He lost his second place as a result and finished third.
The hand was now giving him serious pain, but Vinny was determined to race all three races. In race three he took it easier and did not go for the holeshot. He soon settled in to forth place where he only raced him self.
Vinny had raced harder than expected, but clearly suffered from the sore hand and also from four weeks without riding. It had been the right decision to ride here this day and with one more week of healing the hand should be ready for the Top of the South Champs next weekend. We were also pleased that his crash had not caused any isssues and he did not end up being taken to the hospital with helicopter like one 13-16yo 85cc rider who crashed at the holeshot corner in the first race damaging his knee really badly.
Race video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5BX4DlrYuU
A lap of the track from Re-Play helmet cam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXe2b0uAEeg
Friday 18 October, "Nailing The Peat" Hauraki Plains College Spring Championships
It was an early morning for Vinny as we had decided to drive up from Haumoana to Patetonga in the morning. A four hour drive, so we were on the road at 4am. Vinny spent the time relaxing and watching DVD's and snoozing. When we arrived he felt ready for the challenge.
We had been here before. In March this year Vinny did ride in the HPC's "Back to The Peat" Championship where he placed 10'th in the Competitive 85cc class on a very dry and dusty track. Only the ones who changed air filters between every race were able to complete that day. Today the ground was damp and soft providing a totally different challenge. This is a Championship that is for High Schools and there are individual trophies plus trophies for the schools that score most points. Vinny is currently in year 7 at Havelock Nth Intermediate (with one more year to go before he starts High School). He has been given the OK by Havelock Nth High School to race under their banner. The only issue is that he is their only rider... (We need to change that!).
There had been 12 riders signed up for the class, but on the day 8 lined up for Race 1. All of them High School boys two or more years older than Vinny. Vinny flew out of the gate and had a good lead coming up to the holeshot corner. But then he slowed down to place himself for coming out of the corner...and many of the others caught up and passed him. He was sitting third, then fourth, then fifth. A small off on the second to last lap stopped him from being able to challenge for forth and he finished in fifth. We were OK with that as our aim was a top five finish.
Before Race 2 we had a close look at the holeshot corner and came up with a plan how to attack it so Vinny would have a chance to grab the holeshots. It worked, and the holeshot was Vinny's. The faster riders then caught up with him and he was back in fifth before a mistake in a corner. He got up and carried on racing in sevent, but the field was by now quite a bit ahead, and even if he tried he could only cut down their lead, not catch them and so he finished in 7'th.
We knew that to achieve the result we were looking for: a top five placing, Vinny would have to finish fifth or better in the last race. The two front runners were too fast for Vinny. The third and fourth rider were just a fraction faster than Vinny and we aimed to hang on to them to get the fifth (or perhaps take advantage of a mistake...) Again Vinny got the holeshot. This time with a bike length. He then lost a couple of spots as in the other races, but kept the speed up and had a good gap to sixth. A mistake by the fourth placed rider allowed Vinny to climb up one spot. This looked encouraging! Then disaster. Vinny drifted a little wide in a 90 degree corner and the rider behind dived under him. Vinny noticed this and tried to correct his mistake...only to make a even bigger one: Too much throttle and the backwheel got loose and his bike hit the other riders one. Vinny lost control and flew of his bike and his right leg got caught between the other bikes backwheel and guard. He had also hit both hands hard on the ground and/or his bike and broke his right thumb. Help was there straight away and managed to free Vinny from the other bike. But he stayed on the ground. First Aid staff came to check him out. But after a while he got up and wanted to carry on riding. He was now a lap behind the leaders, and as a result of the hurting hands he was not able to ride to his ability. He finished last but completed the race even if he was in pain.
At the First Aid setup we learned that his leg was bruised and scraped, but had no breaks. The left hand was also only sore and not damaged. But the right hand was worse. Suspected broken bone...
We stayed for the prize giving, and this was painful in two ways: Nothing for Vinny, and the pain in his body. We then drove to Matamata hospital, but they do not have an A&E... so we went home to Hawke's Bay and to the hospital there. At 1am we walked out with a cast on Vinnys right hand and with the knowledge that he had a broken metacarpal bone. This means no riding for a minimum of four weeks.. possibly six weeks. That was not the news we wanted as it means that Vinny will miss the Taupo Labour Weekend Extravaganza, the Waikato Champs, the Ohakune Cup, the HB Club Champs and round 3 of the Manawatu Champs. With some luck he will be able to race in the Auckland Champs on 16 November...
But we have had a good run; this is Vinnys first major injury in five years of riding. Let's hope it is his only one...
Sunday 13 October, Rotorua MCC Winter Series Round 4, (final)
When we left for Rotorua at 6am we felt good. The bike was running really well and any issues we had in the last weeks were all sorted, plus Vinny also was in a good shape. Gone were the illness from last week, he had been sleeping well and was ready for some serious racing! Last time at Rotorua he had a few crashes and some bad luck. Vinny placed 2'nd in all three races after Logan. This time we were aiming for wins, and for good measure all the holeshots too!
On a windy but rain free day Vinny lined up for Race 1 against 11 other riders in the 8-11yo 85cc class. Vinny grabbed the holeshot but drifted a fraction wide and allowed enough space for Logan to pass on the inside. Vinny hang on and only allowed Logan to get approx. a five bike gap between them. The other riders were left far behind the tussle between these two. But no matter how much Vinny wanted it, he was not able to close the gap. 1 - 0 to Logan
Before Race 2 we sat down to come up with a plan to win the race. We agreed that Vinny was fastest out of the gates and should be able to get the holeshot again. But he needed to close the door and not leave a gap for Logan to pass through. If Logan managed to pass, Vinny was to cling on to his back wheel and put pressure on Logan and as soon as he buckled Vinny had to grab the chance. We also agreed that Vinny would use a higher gear and keep the throttle on as the track was good and consistant.
I am pleased to inform that Vinny impressed and followed the plan! In Race 2 he again got the holeshot. He then closed the gate for Logan by hogging the pole line in the first corner. Vinny held the lead until just before the end of the first lap when he drifted a little wide and Logan went under him. Vinny again followed the plan and did not allow Logan to get any real lead, and he also was putting pressure on Logan to unsettle him while trying to create a mistake from him. On the second to last lap it worked. Logan drifted wide and it was Vinny's turn to grab the opportunity. Vinny passed Logan and started to build a lead that was 15 seconds at the chequered flag. 1 - 1.
In Race 3 Vinny grabbed the holeshot and held the lead until the finish without being challenged once. 2 - 1 to Vinny!
As Vinny had only raced in Round 3 and 4 of the Rotorua MCC Winter Series he had no chance of placing well. But what did mean something to us was that Vinny had grabbed the win's in the two last races from Logan who had, until that moment, won every race in the series.
This was the weekend that the North Island Junior MX Champs were held at Foxton. We did not approve on the new 8-16yo 85cc class that had the label "Ability based racing", and we had penned three emails/letters to MNZ with our concerns. After a while without any reply, we had at last been sent a reply from MNZ a couple of weeks before the Champs. But there was nothing in it that made us change our mind, and so we elected to race at the above Rotorua final round of their Winter Series instead. That was a good decision, as racing against older more experienced riders who are still faster than Vinny (Vinny has only been on a 85cc bike for little over 7 months) would have done nothing to improve his self-esteem after the poor riding of lately (as a result of illness and bike issues). But the racing this weekend made him feel very good about himself and he is now very eager to tackle the upcoming Chamionship meetings!
A top day with three holeshots and two wins!
Sunday 6 October, Manawatu-Orion MCC Club Champs Round 2. Taikorea Park Manawatu
For three days Vinny had been battling a nasty tummy bug that made it very tricky to keep any food inside. There was also a fever to combat. The idea was to travel to Palmerston Nth on Saturday, stay there the night and then go racing on Sunday. On Saturday I gave Vinny the option of staying in Hawke's Bay and not to race as he was still not well. But he really wanted to go racing, so of we went.
On Sunday 8am we arrived at the track and signed in. The Taikorea park track is one of the few tracks we have visited that Vinny does not like (and we have been to most tracks in North Island). The track is a sand track with some deep and heavy sand to navigate. Below the loose sand there are ruts that you can not see. Last time here Vinny crashed in all but one race.
The weather gods were smiling at us as it was a warm day that got even better as the sun came out from hiding. Vinny had turned 12 a couple of days earlier, but as he had started the series as a 11yo he was able to complete the whole series in the 8 - 11 yo class. Seven riders lined up for the practice meaning there would be ample space on the track. The practice went well and Vinny focused on trying to figure out the best lines. He also managed a crash on the back section that was out of site from the main part of the track. (He would have all his crashes in the races at the same place...all five of them!)
Vinny was sitting second in the Championship, five points behind Finlay. The plan was to catch Finlay today and prehaps even pass him in the standings...
In the first race Finlay got the holeshot and Vinny was sitting second until he managed to pass at approx middle of the lap. Then to the back section... when the riders re-emerged from there Vinny was in third after two crashes. He caught up and passed for second only to crash in same place again. He was now in fourth when coming over to where we could see the riders again. Vinny was riding hard and managed to climb back up to third, but again crashed at the same spot. He finished third and was very unhappy with his riding. It was very obvious that the illness had sucked his energy and there was very little we could do about that this time.
Vinny got the holeshot in the second race, then got passed a little later. He managed not to crash at the back and once over the crest, passed the leader who had crashed, and was now in first place. Vinny held the lead until he next time came to the spot that had caused all his crashes...and he crashed there again! (By now he was scared for the spot and too cautious meaning his speed was far too slow making him fall). He was now second and lacked the energy to fight leaving him in second spot. Finlay now had two win's against Vinnys 3'rd and 2'nd finish meaning he had pulled further ahead.
I offered Vinny the option of not riding in the last race as it was obvious that his illness had taxed him a fair bit of energy. But he would not have that; he was here to race! In the third race he was second after Finlay at the holeshot and stayed there for the whole race. No crashes but not able to take the fight to Finlay. This meant that Finlay was now 16 points ahead in the series. As we will be at the Waikato Champs when Round 3 is run, Vinny will not get the opportunity to catch up. But as 2013 is more about learning than placings we are not too worried. We will be back for the 4'th and last round.