2012 Race Blog
Saturday 29 December. Summer Cross, Whakatane, Bay of Plenty.
Last meeting of 2012. A sunny and hot 30 degrees day greeted us as we arrived. In 2011 Vinny managed 15'th equal here. This year we were gunnng for a podium finish. In the time trials (that determine the order the riders will pick the gates) it did not look promising. Vinny was 16'th out of 38 riders and 8 seconds slower/lap than fastest rider (Zac Jillings). That was clearly not what we expected and Vinny was a fraction upset. Thou in the end it did not matter, as of some obscure reason all wanted to start from the right hand side of the gates (looking from the riders view). We found this strange as it was the furtherest away from the holeshot. And so Vinny, in all 3 starts, got the gate he would have picked anyhow (just to left of the starter box).
Vinny had not been on the bike since early in December allowing him 3 weeks to do what boys do: pushbike, swim, hang out with mates and just relax. So he was a little rusty on the bike. In the first race Vinny was 5'th in the first corner. He rode well and was for a while up in 3'rd spot before finishing 4'th. The ones around him (Zac Jillings 1'st, Dylan Kenny 3'rd and Kian De Lacey 5'th) were the ones we expected to be his toughest competition. But the boy who came second in this first race, Hunter Steens, was a surprise to us.
In the second race Vinny got his best start of the day and the Holeshot was his! (My apologies for the "F-bomb" I let off at that stage on the video. I just got very excited with Vinny managing to come out first in a group of 38 riders!) Vinny created a good gap to the rest of the riders. But then Zac managed to pass the others and started reeling in Vinny. At the end of the 5'th lap Zac had passed Vinny and managed to create a 9 second gap when the race ended. Zac was still 2 seconds/lap faster than Vinny, but gone was the 8 seconds/lap from the time trials! Vinnys muffler decided to desintegrate just after Zac had passed him, and suddenly he was by far the loudest rider on the track! Hunter came 3'rd meaning that Vinny was now 2 points behind him. So if we wanted a second on the podium he would have to beat Hunter with 2 or more points in the last race. (Zac had won both races and was out of reach by now).
After replacing the muffler with the one from our spare bike, Vinny was ready for the challenge. In the third race Leevi Roach came from nowhere to take the holeshot with Vinny in second place. Vinny tucked in behind Leevi looking for an opportunity to pass, and at the end of the second lap Leevi found the pressure too much and crashed. Vinny inherited the lead and it looked very promising. But there was more twists to be added to this meeting for Vinny. By now Vinny was nuturing a flat front tyre and having to be careful in the by now dry and dusty corners. As a result Zac, who again was the fastest on the track, caught Vinny and once again passed him. Vinnys balance act between fast and safely almost worked. On the 6'th lap his frontwheel lost grip in the toughest corner making him crash, and when he was back up riding, Hunter was on his backwheel. This would have been enough for Hunter to claim 2'nd over all. But either he did not realise it, or the racer in him took over as he passed Vinny on the next lap. Vinny kept the pressure on Hunter knowing he had to beat him to have any chance of placing second. It was a risky tactic, as if he had fallen again with his flat front tyre, the chance that he would not have finished on the podium was high. But it paid off, and on 2'nd to last lap the pressure got too much for Hunter and he crashed off the podium.
Vinny finished the 3'rd race in 5'th and with the others who had a chance of a podium fading, Vinny placed a deserved 2'nd after Zac Jillings. (In all 3 races Vinny was ahead of Zac from start, and in race 2 and 3 Zac had to pass Vinny to take the lead). So we are getting closer to our aim: To win a meeting ahead of Zac. I am very proud of my little racer and his massive improvement this year!
I also would like to mention that both Zac and Vinny are sponsored by AFC Motorcycles from Palmerston North, so I am sure they are pleased!