Archive for the ‘DriveNZ’ Category

Drive NZ Classic Day 3 – Taupo Raceway Track Day

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Today was a full track day at Taupo Raceway, an excellent track with modern infrastructure in an absolutely beautiful setting, surrounding by mountains, forests and steaming hot springs.

This was a new track to me and I was quite looking forward to it. The weather forecast a day earlier had been for snow…luckily it was completely inaccurate, and we enjoyed bright sunshine all day.

The track is great fun and the team that runs ‘playdaysontrack’ there did a great job. I can’t say enough good things about this track; it suits the Exige but is also safe and challenging so get there if you can.

I had one huge spin but only broke my pride. One of the highlights of my day was tagging along with a local driving an M3CSL in a very neat and fast fashion. I followed for a couple of laps and learnt a bit.

Another thing that is becoming a standard feature is jousting with Grant (V8 MGB) on track. This time I was right behind while he was giving Rebecca a ride when he had a spin. Rebecca had a big grin on when she got out.

In the evening our “minder” Doug (a new Zealand police officer) cooked an awesome barbecue and we watched the sun go down over Lake Taupo over a few beers until the temperature plummeted and drove us inside to review the days video footage and photographs.

We had an early night as I had picked up Rebecca’s chest infection.

Drive NZ Classic Day 2 – ‘Closed Road’ Sections around Rotorua

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Day 2 began with the establishment of our new ritual, the ‘Morning Coffee Hunt.’ Luckily the rally includes two veterans of the hunt, Boyd and Igor, and they are usually hot on the trail of all things gastronomic. On this day we actually found our own barista and he got us going in the right style. I’m sure our hunters will be back on form soon.

We had a great drive on the way to petrol with Grant in his very British liveried V8 MGB on some absolutely gorgeous road. We weren’t pushing too hard but had a lot of fun. We got scolded at the petrol station by a fellow motorist (in form if not in spirit) for ‘not staying inside the lines’!!

From there the traffic got really heavy and it wasn’t too much fun to Rotorua where we stopped for lunch before setting off to Taupo via two of the erstwhile “closed road” sections of the event.

The Waimangu Thermal Resort road is very nice indeed and the Waikite Valley Road is a little more open so you can sit on the speed limit pretty much the whole time. The only scare we had was when we came over a brow and there were to figures standing by the road in the distance. Of course we were proceeding at a legal pace but I hauled a lot of speed off very rapidly just in case. It turned out to be just a couple of looney Lamborghini pilots filming the cars going by.

After a quick stop to look at the awesome Huka falls we went into Taupo to find our accommodation. We had a beautiful place by the lake shore and had a lovely meal in their restaurant. The Millenium motel is recovering from a fire but is doing a very nice job in spite of it. And there are still two bottles of 04 Basket Press left at what can only be described as a bargain price. The price isn’t on the menu but you should ask.

Drive NZ Classic Day 1 – Track Day Pukekohe

Friday, October 9th, 2009

The unseasonal weather made this a really cold and soggy start. It also chased away many of the casual entrants we were expecting for the day! I was looking forward to driving the track again after some years since I last competed there in the Reynard during the NZ GP.

Pukekohe was at its wet weather best, with most of the track workably grippy, but the front straight was pretty slippery. We had the dampers backed right off to chase some grip but it wasn’t fun.

The big lesson of the day for me was the letdown of the pagid RS14. They make lovely fast road pads but were not up to track work. You couldn’t get them to bite and I was losing quite a lot of braking zone as they came on. It will be interesting to see what happens on the shorter tracks where the temps stay up.

Rebecca did a several lap session that was only her third drive in the car since we bought it. She had fun in spite of the cold and rain. This was our first track excursion with the Exige and was a great learning experience.

We had a pretty drive to Whangamata. The highlight was when we finally blasted past a slow car we had been stuck behind I turned to Rebecca and said “Now we have a clear road, a great car and it has stopped raining” but then we crested the next rise into solid fog!!

After the track day at Pukekohe we did 120km in convoy to the delightful surfie town of Whangamata for our overnight stop at the Cabana Lodge Motel… just say no!

The forecast for Taupo tomorrow is max 11 and snow down to 400m so who knows!?

Arrive in NZ

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Big thanks to Qantas at Sydney airport who lost our luggage. A busy day just became impossible. The people at Auckland airport were very helpful and explained that Sydney loses lots of luggage. The luggage finally arived at 1030 pm so we missed out opportunity to install the camera in the car before the event began

New Zealand roads closed by snow

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

It’s lucky A048 semi slicks are good in snow and slush eh?

Here is the road status for NZ. South Island looks ok, just need to find my chains for the exige.

Final preparations

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

We picked up Rebeccas new helmet from our old friend Chris at Revolution Racegear. The bags are packed and I’m just working out what tools we are taking. I think I should take a third SDHC card for the smartycam. I might borrow a go-pro as well for some outside shots.

DriveNZ Classic

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Just one week to go. My checklist is down to trivialities now. Our house sitter arrives on Friday to spend 6 days getting to know Princess Smudgeycat and all her habits. Rebecca is fussing over clothing and I am only wondering how on earth I’m going to attend a black tie event after three weeks on the road in a car that makes a shoebox look expansive. I think it might turn out to be black tie and t-shirt. I’m doing transition to a new guy at work so I’ll go on this event as one of the great unemployed. Can’t wait.

Exige arrived safely in NZ

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Roger Philips has our car safely out of customs, approved by the NZ road licensing gods and ready to go. It’s even nice and clean after its sea voyage

Exige in NZ