In 2017, Ben Thomasen scored the big double of offroad racing, winning the national championship and the epic two-day 1000 km stand-alone NZ 1000 enduro.

This year he will be pressed hard from the opening round at Taranaki in early March to the daunting table-top jumps and rock-strewn enduro course of the final in October. The opening round has attracted almost 60 entries.

Tauranga-based Thomasen is a factory team driver for the Polaris UTV brand, but will be racing all classes and categories at every round in order to amass points toward a new title.

Already top drivers are massing in the JG Civil-backed UTV category including lightning fast Dyson Delahunty, Pukekohe racer and former northern champion Carl Ruiterman, Joel Giddy and Albany-based Hayden McKenzie. Across the U (standard) and S (modified) UTV classes, there are now 17 entries.

Two weeks from race day the full entry list for the event had gone past 60 cars across 15 classes.

In the top unlimited race car class, Manukau’s Tony McCall (BSL Chev) will go up against Hamilton racer Alan Hilliam in his Porsche-powered car and Justin Davies will debut his powerful Cougar Honda Turbo single-seater.

A missing man: there are so entries to date in the spectacular class three for offroad race cars with engines up to 1.6 litres – but no sign of class champion Brendon Midgely in his Mobil-backed car. That leaves the class open to a pitched battle for top points between some very competitive race cars including local Brendon Olds.

Current class champion Todd Graham is the leading entrant in the five-strong field for class five (cars with engines up to 1.3 litres).

Challenger class for cars with VW 1.6-litre engines also attracts the current class champion, Karl Burbage. He goes up against a field of five including Ollie McCall, Tim Ackers and a promising recent arrival in the sport, Mark Goldstone.

In class seven, current North Island Champion Jack Hellier (Karaka) races against Connor Nicklin.

Class ten, which caters for the smallest cars in the sport, has attracted two entries: local Dan Fromings and Waikato driver Sam Atkins.

In the past four years, the growth sector of the sport has been the UTVs or ‘side by sides’. Drivers can choose to compete in U class (standard with safety modifications) or S class in four wheel drive vehicles made by Polaris, CanAm, Yamaha and others. There are nine U class racers entered (the largest entry in the event) and six S class including Ben Thomasen.

The spectacular unlimited truck class, backed again this year by 4WD Bits, has attracted no less than seven top entries including Dale Buckley, Malcolm Langley and Nick Hall. Other truck classes add a further four vehicles to the category.

Crabb Racing Kiwitrucks has already drawn entry from five rising youth racers: Andre England, Reeve Giddy and Lincoln Whiddett in J class, Harry Hodgson in M class (gearbox) trucks and Tyler King in the entry-level K class.

The championship points battle will start on Sunday 11 March at the Taranaki club’s purpose-built offroad race track on Croydon Road, Tariki. Racing starts at 10 am and will be in ‘short course’ or stadium-style heats. The venue has been designed to provide unparalleled viewing for spectators and also to challenge drivers with spectacular jumps and fast corners with wide entries giving maximum opportunity for bold overtaking moves.

The little club that CAN

Taranaki Offroad Race Club was renowned for holding fast, exciting race events back in the 1980s and early 1990s. Now the club is back with its own track, and it’s hosting the first round of the 2018 ORANZ Offroad Racing Championship.

Not only that, but at current count it has 13 cars, trucks and UTVs entered in the coming event.

In particular, the club has a virtual lock-out on the popular class three, where Brendon Old, Andrew Green (pictured), Darrell Martin and Lance Mitchell will grid up – four of the six entries.

AJ Fitzgerald joins the five-strong grid for class five.

Dan Fromings grids up for class 10.

Gregory Lang has entered Challenger class.

Robert Cresswell and Garry Hopkins are the locals in 4WD Bits class 4. Ricky May is the local in the seven-strong 4WD Bits class 8.

The JG Civil U class for standard UTVs is the biggest in the event with ten entries so far. John Young grids up as the local representative there.

In the six-strong entry for JG Civil UTV S class there are two locals: Rick and Jake Field.


Field Trucking Ltd

Taranaki short course

Leading entries to date: (car number/name)

Class 1

109                      Alan Hilliam, Dargaville

157                      Tony McCall, Manukau

196                      Justin Davies, Waiuku


Class 3

323                      Darryl Rush, Palmerston North

333                      Brendon Old, Taranaki

341                      Andrew Green, Taranaki

350                      Darrell Martin, Taranaki

363                      Lance Mitchell, Taranaki

367                      Jarrod Marwood, Auckland


4WD Bits class 4 – sports trucks

400                      Robert Cresswell, Taranaki

412                      Garry Hopkins, Taranaki

457                      Glenn Turvey, Wellington


Class 5

507                      Todd Graham, Hawkes Bay

517                      Nick Magness, Auckland

545                      Regan Swensson, Auckland

578                      AJ Fitzgerald, Taranaki

580                      Alastair Manning, Wellington


4WD Bits class 6

615                      Darrin Neeley, Auckland


Class 7

710                      Connor Nicklin, Auckland

726                      Jack Hellier, Karaka


4WD Bits class 8

825                      Dale Buckley, Auckland

828                      Jimmy Johnson, Manukau

841                      Ricky May, Taranaki

861                      Nick Hall, Manukau

865                      Richard Bell, Palmerston North

893                      Malcolm Langley, Whakatane

889                      Grant Rosenburg, Palmerston North


Class 10

1062                   Dan Fromings, Taranaki

1067                   Sam Atkins, Waikato


Challenger VW

C                         Karl Burbage, Auckland

C21                     Ollie McCall, Manukau

C30                     Tim Ackers, Auckland

C87                     Mark Goldstone, Tauranga

C96                     Gregory Lang, Taranaki




JG Civil UTV category – U class

U14                     Dion Edgecombe, Matamata

U21                     John Young, Taranaki

U22                     Carl Ruiterman, Pukekohe

U31                     Shane McWatt, Auckland

U43                     Brian Rutgers, Manukau

U72                     Scott Mitchell, Auckland

U87                     Dyson Delahunty, Tauranga

U88                     Shawn King, Auckland

U90                     Jamie McKinstry, Manukau


JG Civil UTV category –S class

S1                       Ben Thomasen, Tauranga

NZ3                     Joel Giddy, Whangarei

S17                     Nathan Moore, Auckland

S66                     Rick Field, Taranaki

S98                     Haydn MacKenzie, Albany

S99                     Jake Field, Taranaki


Crabb Racing Kiwitruck youth category

J69                      Andre England, Auckland

J81                      Reeve Giddy, Whangarei

J321                    Lincoln Whiddett, Auckland


M12                     Harry Hodgson, Auckland


K28                     Tyler King, Auckland


By |2018-03-08T07:24:28+00:00March 8th, 2018|Racing|Comments Off on New cars, new stars: OFFROAD RACING CHAMPIONSHIP READY TO ROAR INTO ACTION