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Darren Johnston wins New Zealand Nationals !

Darren's Race Report:

The 2011 Electric Offroad Nationals were held in the sunny Hawkes Bay on the East Coast of New Zealand's North Island over the weekend of April 1st - 3rd. There were approximately 125 entries which is very good by New Zealand standards.

I have recently moved to Australia but would take the 7hr plane flight back to my homeland knowing there would be good competition and fun times. I arrived early on Friday morning for practice and there was already a lot of people there. It was good to meet up with my old friends. The track looked very good; technical with a lot of elevation change and some jumps in difficult positions. After running my cars in practice it was obvious the track was going to stay very very slippery all weekend as well. In fact it was probably the slickest track I have ever run on.

I made some small changes in practice to the X Factory X - 6² 2WD mod and the X Factory X - 60 Truck mod and they were pretty good. Qualifying was on Saturday and the rocket round system was being used so only one round counted. Qualifying went ok but I was never quite on top of my driving and ended up 2nd in Truck Mod, 2nd in 2WD mod and 5th in 4WD mod. After a long night wrenching and changing a few more things it was finals day. I was quietly confident and knew I could do better than qualifying.

Darren Johnston with his X Factory rides.
In Truck Mod things did not go well in the first final and I had to pull out after two corners with a broken front arm. But luckily for me things went very well in the final two finals and I won them both, setting fastest race AND fastest lap time along the way. I also had the only 12 lap run of the meeting in Truck Mod in the second final. This was my very first race meeting with the truck, and I'm national champion!

In 2wd mod things were going to be very very close between myself and two other drivers, one of whom also had the advantage of driving an X - 6 ². In fact, 4 of the first 5 buggies on the grid in the A main were X Factory cars! In the first final I finished second after struggling with a bad start and fighting my way back through the field. In the
A great weekend indeed! Click any
of the pictures to enlarge.
second A final there was an early three way battle for the lead but by the half way mark the other two drivers made errors and fell back, allowing me to charge on to the win. In the third and deciding final Steve Oyston drove his X - 6² flawlessly and ran away with the main; I sat in a close battle for 2nd the whole way and in the end only missed out by 0.08 second. That left the three of us tied on points; however, my 3rd place finish in the final main beat the other two drivers lower throw outs and I was crowned the 2WD modified national champion with the XFactory X - 6². Great Day!

In 4WD modified I had had two good results in the first finals but neither of them were wins. I had a mathematical chance of winning my third national title for the weekend but I would have to win and some other results would have to go my way. My car was now as quick as the other two drivers that were in with a chance and in the third final we were running nose to tail for a while. In the end I finished a couple of seconds away from first in a mistake free run. So I was third overall.
It was a great weekend for me and I really enjoyed it. Well worth the long trip to New Zealand from Perth in Western Australia. I'd like to thank all my sponsors for their support. The Tekin RS Pro's versatility and adjustability really helped adapt to a very slippery track, and the B-Fast diffs helped put the power down. The new ceramic thrust and carbide diff ball setup is very good! And obviously my X Factory cars were awesome; they had to be to win two national titles for the weekend. It was the first run for the X60 truck and to win the national title was brilliant. My X - 6² is always very good and it proved so again even in very slippery track conditions - conditions a mid motor car is not supposed to work in!

A big congrats to Darren for his wins, and of course best of luck to him in the upcoming Australian nationals!
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