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Slippery When Wet

Datsun 1200 at Dezzi Raceway

Throughout all the years of racing, I have been fortunate enough to have competed on almost every existing and serviceable track around the country.  Dezzi Raceway down in Port Shepstone is one of them that I have never raced on and made this a bucket list objective.  News of the scheduled Dezzi race was already doing the rounds back in January 2022 and an almighty effort was made to finally get this under my belt.

We headed down on the Thursday in convoy finally getting to the track at about 15h00.  The weather was still fair but that was soon to change according to the weather gods.  Come Friday and it was overcast and still dry but overhead loomed the dark threatening clouds with the predicted rain.  Not ever having had the need or opportunity to purchase a set of wet tyres we made a plan and obtained a well used set of 6″ intermediates which was as best it was going to get and that I could afford.  Knowing what was coming, we decided to go out on these tyres in session 1 so as to get a heat cycle in them and ready for the predicted rain conditions.  They proved to be drivable but boy do they move around under load.  Lap times were a non entity at this stage but we required more setup if we wanted to improve.  As such we made some further changes to tyre pressures and tried again in the second session.  Again there was a slight improvement but we knew that those lap times would not be anywhere near achievable in the wet so we decided to scrub the set of secondhand slicks we brought along just in case in the last session.  And then the rain came and by that time we thought it a waste and gave the last session a miss.

Saturday morning and Dezzi Raceway was drenched but this time there was no holding back as this weather was set to remain for the entire day.  We refitted the inters and headed for qualifying.  To say it was an ice skating rink is probably an understatement and my best time was a 1:49.  This was nowhere near competitive.  Again we made some changes to tyre pressures in the hope of improving our lap time.  Race 1 and I started 16th on grid out of 20 starters as conditions worsened.  Handling was still a huge problem but I simply had to cope with what I had and even managed to pick off a few places in the interim.  At the chequered flag I had managed to work my way up to 9th and only managed to post a 1:45 at best but it was an improvement.  Back to the drawing board and I plucked up the courage and phoned my “boet” asking for his setup advice.  

It took us a while to implement all the required changes to cambers and wheel alignment as well as adjustments to stabilisation but we made them as I was advised.  Race 2 got under way a tad late due to numerous track holdups but not before lady luck had her final say.  Standing in front on the pre-race grid and with all the cars lined up behind the pit marshals finally gave the all clear to proceed onto track but pushing the ignition start button just went ‘klik, klik‘.  Dead on the pre-race grid with everyone now passing me onto track.  Luckily I got assistance and finally they push started the car to fire up.  Then pit lane was closed which meant I now had to start at back of the grid.  All that hard work almost seemed to have gone down the drain.  Once all competitors had passed the start-finish behind the pace car on the rolling start I was allowed to enter the track.  Desperately trying to put as much heat as possible into the tyres during the rolling start out lap, I was ever determined to make up lost ground.  The cars handling still far from perfect but at least now it felt a lot better and turned a lot more accurately and controllably.  At lights out I had made up about 2 places into the first left hand corner, everyone still tip toeing around in a solid downpour trying to stay out of trouble.  By quarter way through the race I had managed to pick off 6 competitors but was now stuck behind a stubborn VW Beetle with some wicked ‘horizontal’ 4 cylinder piston engine.  I took every conceivable chance I had and pushed him hard in every corner hoping that he would finally make a mistake.  It eventually  happened around lap 4 when he ran slightly wide going into the ‘horseshoe’ (T11) where I got him onto the inside and finally got past him.  A thoroughly enjoyable race day all said and done finally posting my best time of a 1:41, finishing 8th overall in heat 2, and 2nd in class for the day.   Thanks ‘Boet“.  

A huge big thanks also to Francois Jacobs who meticulously prepares my car for every race.

Dezzi done and dusted.

Qualifying

Qualifying

Still requiring a lot of setup changes to be made.

Overall Results

Overall Results

The final results.

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