Experience brings top result for racer Moriarty
Christchurch’s Wayne Moriarty, one of the fastest and most experienced offroad racers in New Zealand, has once more scooped the Mainland Challenge trophy.
Moriarty took a clean sweep of the first day’s short course (stadium) racing at the Canterbury club’s purpose-built West Melton track.
Driving his Alumicraft Toyota single seater he bested the times of many more powerful unlimited class cars to line up P3 on the grid for Sunday’s enduro, and chased pole man Jacob Brownlees and P2 Daniel Powell into the rock-strewn forest course of the 200 km endurance race the following day.
Powell, grappling with engine concerns, settled into second place behind the flying Brownlees while Moriarty had a rock smashed his power steering and had to pit for repairs.
A late race stop for fuel put Powell at a disadvantage and he too was on the comeback trail, carving through the field aiming to chase down Moriarty and gain sight of the rear of Brownlees’ car. The leader had gone without a fuel stop, banking on his car’s ability to run 200 km on one fill.
In the end there were not enough laps for Powell to close the gap. Brownlees swept to a well-deserved win with 10 mm of fuel swishing around the base of his fuel tank – an improvement on the previous year when he ran out of fuel crossing the finish line.
Wayne Moriarty put in the fastest lap of the race, a 15:44.706 on lap six of ten.
Running in second place for the later stages of the race, Moriarty found himself nursing a crippled car after the rocky surface eliminated first his front and then rear brakes, leaving him only with the car’s ‘cutting’ brakes as he held on to third overall.
The effort was worthwhile, the Euroblast car finishing just 1:35 behind the more powerful car of Brownlees and 34 seconds ahead of a charging Powell. Brownlees also won the unlimited class and Moriarty took out HasTrak class three.
Fourth overall after a determined drive was Paul Preston, who won 4WD Bits class 8 in his V8 four wheel drive Toyota Hilux. Bryan Chang, who led the class after the first round, had his GT Radial Ford Falcon ute cut out deep in the forest but had completed enough laps to be classified a finisher and continues to lead 4WD Bits class 8.
Dunedin’s Dave Ballantyne won 4WD Bits class 4 in his Nissan Terrano after fellow Otago racer Wayne Wilson went out of the enduro.
In Class 5 for cars with engines up to 1350 cc, Christchurch’s Clint Densem scored a clean sweep of the class heats but was hit from behind on the opening lap of the enduro, delayed with a damaged front suspension and brakes. He finished 10th overall for the weekend and continues to lead class 5.
Daniel Rusbatch put in a storming drive over the two days to win class seven for cars with 1.2-litre VW engines or 1.0-litre water cooled engines. He climbed from 20th to 11th in the enduro, completing eight of a possible ten laps.
HasTrak Challenger class for cars with 1.6-litre VW engines was won convincingly by Andrew Knight.
In the sport’s ‘new wave’ – the side by side or UTV classes, there were standout drives from Roger McKay in U class for the more standard vehicles and from Bob Uttridge in the more modified JG Civil S class. Roger McKay finished fifth overall, just ahead and thus ahead of all the S class entries. Rosco Gaudin, the other U class entry, did not finish the distance in the enduro but was classified 22nd and with three second places on the first day is still handily placed in the championship.
The 2017 Mainland Challenge was the fourth round of the Polaris New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship in association with HasTrak. Round five brings the championship back to Christchurch in early August.