High speed offroad race action comes to Twizel over Easter as the 2014 national championship kicks off with a north-south clash.
Auckland racer Ernie Hogg is bringing his unlimited-class Scorpion Chev two-seater all the way south – a round trip of some 2,600 km – to race on the glacial moraine valley west of the township near the Ohau hydro power canal. The car, dubbed ‘the General’ and coloured like the Dodge car made famous by television series and movie The Dukes of Hazzard, runs a Chev LS2 V8 engine. It is tipped to be a front-runner in its class and a strong prospect to win the big endurance title outright.
In the unlimited class Hogg goes up against Christchurch racers Geoff Densem (Ryan FAT VW) and Vince Harvey (Ryan Mitsubishi Evo) and Nelson racers Neville Basalaj (Jimco Chev), Ashley Kelly (Cougar VW) and Blake McDonald (Nissan). Winton racer and unlimited truck class national champion Donald Preston has handed over the wheel of his mighty Toyota Hilux to son Paul, who lines up against Neville Taylor (Nelson), Owen Chang (Christchurch) and Gavin Storer (Christchurch) while local hopes for in-class glory will be pinned on Barry Phillips in his VW Challenger. Southland Nissan racer Roger McKay has switched out to one of the new UTV-class Polaris four wheel drives and will be making his championship U-class debut.
The racing takes place over Saturday and Sunday of Easter Weekend. On Saturday the 40-strong entry competes in class-by-class heats on a short course, while the next day they tackle a 250 km endurance race plotted over a longer course on the fast and open glacial plains of the farm alongside Ohau Canal Road. Racing starts at 11 am. Race organiser Barry Phillips says rain during the week will minimise dust nuisance for drivers and improve grip on both days. Strong class turnout grows by the day Most classes will feature grids of five or six cars for the short course racing. Class one – where Ernie Hogg goes up against the southern speedsters – is currently six-strong.
Class two for production trucks has four entries for Steven Boyd, Ron Crosby, Josh Lee and Ian Simcox. Class three has six entries – current class champion Wayne Moriarty will square off against Greg Winn (Nelson), Blair Prebble, James Fleming, Carl Gardner and Cam Stratford.
Class four will be fought out between Jackie Andrew and Simon Smith. Class five for 1.3-litre cars has attracted entries from Clint Densem, Graham Fleming and Andrew Johnston. There are currently no class six entries – Roger McKay having ‘defected’ to U-class and Neville Taylor to class 8 for unlimited trucks. Likewise, there are no entries in class seven for 1.2-litre cars.
Challenger VW class shows a strong turnout with Barry Phillips, his son Jake, Adam Reid, Tyler Martin, Rob Palmer and Sam Johnston. Class 10 for motorcycle-engined cars has attracted entries from Damian Halliday and Rosco Gaudin.
The new UTV class for Polaris and Can Am four wheel drive cars has entries for Mike Holmes, Bob Uttridge, Roger McKay and Grant Dixon. Brooke and Jorja Storer are the entries in the youth class for Kiwitrucks