Motorsport mecca hosts offroad racing national finals
Nelson’s reputation as a motorsport mecca takes a step forward this weekend as the assembled might of the offroad racing national championship thunders into town.
Chosen to host the final round of the 2017 Polaris New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship in association with HasTrak, the Nelson club will also field its own teams in the event. Event spokesperson (and competitor) Darrin Thomason will race his Mitsubishi Pajero V6 in 4WD Bits class 4 for modified four wheel drives; Daniel Rusbatch will race in class 7 for race cars with 1.2-litre VW engines or 1.0-litre Toyota engines and John Strickett wheels out his 1.6-litre Challenger VW.
There will be two days of racing, with crowd-pleasing short course (stadium) racing on Saturday and a punishing 225 km endurance race on Sunday. Darrin Thomason says there is every reason to expect the championship will be decided in the enduro.
“Racers in many classes will arrive in Nelson with a maximum 92 points, meaning it’s a level playing field going into the short course heats and whoever comes through with a clean set of wins then goes out into the forest the next day still carrying maximum points. That means we have two full days of high speed offroad racing to look forward to,” he said.
They will go up against a 60-strong field that ranges from tiny single-seater race cars with 1.2-litre VW engines all the way to the massive V8 engined truck and 4WD entries in the 4WD Bits unlimited class. There are eight unlimited class race cars coming, including the spectacular V8 cars of multiple champion Tony McCall, John Morgan, Jardyne Lammers and Donald Preston.
There is also a strong turnout of offroad racing’s new wave – the UTV or ‘side by side’ race vehicles that are sweeping the sport. The category has yet to see a local team step up, but there are a dozen of the agile race cars coming from as far away as Auckland and Te Anau.
The UTVs have classes for stock vehicles (U class, with safety enhancements) and a modified class (S) that allows turbocharged engines, improved suspension and additional fuel capacity.
Current NZ 1000 winner Ben Thomasen of Tauranga is a leading entry in JG Civil S class in his factory backed Polaris RZR 1000 XP. He heads a three-car North Island assault on the class that also includes Joel Giddy from Wainui and Rick Field of New Plymouth. Thomasen shares the class points lead with southern racer Bob Uttridge.
Championship leader Roger McKay, formerly of Southland but now living in Taupo, is a leading U-class (stock) entry, going up against Tauranga’s Dyson Delahunty, Rosco Gaudin (Te Anau), ex-drifter Carl Ruiterman of Pukekohe and Dion Edgecombe of Matamata.
The event will be held at the Hunt property, Quail Valley Road, Belgrove with racing starting both days at 10 am. Spectator admission is $5, under 14s are free. There is a first chance to see the race cars up close at scrutineering on Friday night at the Speights Ale House between 3pm and 6pm.
Issued on behalf of the Off Road Association of New Zealand by Veritas Communications. For more information contact:
Mark Baker, media and sponsorship manager
Phone 021 2120607