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The Nelson Trip Report

Welly Bucket Racers field trip to Nelson

With greatly-appreciated financial and logistical help from Todd Russell and Pinkfit Wellington, nine of us drove, ferried and flew to Nelson, with the BRNZ transponders, to join in the fun that is their annual Ferris Trophy Night Meeting, which also doubled as the first round of a two-round experimental North vs South Challenge Series.

Despite worrying weather forecasts, the day dawned clear and fine, with no breeze, and not a little humidity.

Gates at the Kartsport Nelson track opened, officially at 10:30, but in reality much earlier. The club and local riders had arranged extra pit space for the fairly major increase in Bucket Bike competitors, so setup at the track was straighforward and convenient.

There were 18 riders entered: 9 from Wellington, 2 from the West Coast, and one from Ashburton, plus 6 locals. One of the coasters was Cam Page, who raced with us many times at Kaitoke as a small boy.

Transponders had never previously been used for the bikes at this track, so the locals were looking forward to discovering their lap times. The transponders had all been preassigned and passed to the timing folk, so there was plenty of time for introductions and chats before our tuning run (read “circuit learning” and transponder check) around 1:30. This was pretty slow for us Wellies on a new track, so most of us were struggling to break 46 second lap times, but grip was great and the track lots of fun.

Due to time pressure on the very full race program of the day, we opted to run all 18 bikes in one class, and the Bucket race was the seventh of eight heats per round. This late scheduling proved to be a huge benefit later in the meeting.

Our first 8 lap race started at 2:18, with two more 8-lappers before a dinner break at about 5pm for burgers and barbecue.

Resuming an hour or so later under the very effective track lights, we had two final 10-lappers, ending the racing about 9pm. Our position in the race program proved useful as the early kart races cleared the settled dew from the track, and the grip continued to be very good for us.

As you can imagine, 18 bikes starting on a 606 metre track with a hairpin as the first corner after the start, resulted, over the five races, in a certain number of RUDs (Rapid Unplanned Disassemblies), but amazingly, 17 of the 18 started the final race. We won’t talk about the finishing number though.

We all loved the track and the club facilities, and plan to return, especially for this unique night event.

After packing up our pits and loading our vehicles, we attended the prizegiving in the club rooms, and to our surprise, Kartsport Nelson had included the bikes in their trophy presentations, with actual trophies for us. The podium had Nelson’s Paul Jameson and Daniel Penney on the top two steps, and our Richard Eltherington on step 3. I should point out that the kart points system is quite different from ours, so these results are unlikely to correspond with our series positions.

Fastest lap times of the event were:

  1. Paul Jameson 38.460,

  2. Jethro Bowman 39.199,

  3. Richard Eltherington 39.762

  4. Jake Bugg 39.865.

Most impressive was that Jake’s best time was in the last race of the day for us,

in the semi-dark with settling dew and a cold track, when everyone else was struggling to match their daylight times.

After the prizegiving, socialising continued for quite some time, and we finally left the track slightly on the left side of midnight. Happily, all our transport home was scheduled later on Sunday.

The second and final round of this experimental North vs South Series will take place in a bikes-only day on the first weekend of June at Kaitoke (4th June) with a practice day included on 3rd June. We hope to see as many South Island competitors as possible make the trip.

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