• Brownlees hails fast work by crew after engine failure
  • Nelson’s Fisher leads unlimited race car class
  • Strong field in JG Civil UTV S class


Christchurch offroad competitor Jacob Brownlees is racing against the clock this week to complete repairs to his new car in time to contest this weekend’s round of the national championship, the Mainland Challenge.

A fortnight ago Brownlees damaged the Chevrolet LS3 engine in his Aceco race car as he made his fourth attempt at Woodhill 100 in northwest Auckland. Starting off the fifth row – P11 of a full grid of 78 cars – he had fought his way through to fourth overall and was within 20 seconds of the leader. Revelling in the cool and fine conditions, Brownlees was targeting a podium finish when his engine let go on lap five of twelve.

“She just started to misfire and then that was it, no engine.”

The long drive home was enough time to plan the repair. In a manic week of work his crew, including past national champion Owen Chang, have removed the engine and replaced it, checked the rest of the car over and had it ready for tuning on an engine dyno by the Wednesday before the event.

The entry list for this weekend’s Mainland Challenge strands at 41 with the likelihood of another 5-7 late entries. The field includes the unlimited class points leader, Dan Fisher of Nelson, whose return and preparation for this weekend involved only a wash of the car and check-over for any rock damage from Woodhill, where he finished fourth. The second Brownlees car, driven by Jacob to the end of the 2018 season, will be racing with Kevin Clive at the wheel.

The overall championship points leader, Roger Mackay, races in the JG Civil UTV category but has not entered. Fast movers in the class include Bob Uttridge, Slim Slee and Ian Cowan.

The Mainland Challenge is two days of high speed race action, with family-friendly short course (stadium) racing at West Melton on Saturday and a 250 km endurance race on Sunday that starts and finishes from the West Melton track.

Offroad racing national president Martin van der Wal says this is the chance for southern competitors to start amassing points toward the championship.

Two rounds done up north the championship now swings into the south for a classic two day race event. The fast short course track built at West Melton by the Canterbury club is superb, with enough jumps and tricky sections to keep the drivers working hard and some spectacular fast corners that have tripped the unwary in the past. The following day the surviving cars go out into the nearby forest for a multi-lap enduro but there’s still plenty to see as they return to the West Melton raceway every lap,” he said.

There will be separate races for the sport’s youth category, Kiwitrucks.

The 2019 Mainland Challenge takes place Saturday and Sunday June 15-16. Racer and spectator access is on Weedons Ross Road, with racing due to start at 10.30 am on Saturday and 10 am Sunday. Spectator admissioin is $10, under 15s are free.

Class 1

1 Mike Fraser

104 Donald Preston

110 Alex Bright

112 Dan Fisher

116 Kevin Nankivell

133 Jacob Brownlees

146 Kevin Clive

173 Nevil Basalaj

190 Greg Winn


4WD Bits Class 2

250 Ron Crosby


Class 3

324 Brendon Midgley

333 Brendon Old

353 Braden Hill

357 Fergus Crabb

379 Joel Green


4WD Bits Class 4

436 Graham Fleming


Class 7

711 Caleb Waugh


4WD Bits Class 8

800 Paul Preston

836 Cam Stratford

847 Bryan Chang


Class 9

924 Donald McMillan

952 Barry Phillips


C Class

C16 Sam Jury

C24 Jorja Storer

C42 Brooke Storer

C69 Andrew Knight

C73 Ian Simcox


M Class

M 12 Harry Hodgson

M 23 Jack Brownlees


JG Civil U Class

U07 James Dickson

U32 Craig Plunkett

U87 Dyson Delahunty


JG Civil S Class

S12 Slim Slee

S31 Andrew McFredies

S32 Ian Cowan

S46 Bob Uttridge

S51 Grant Dickson

S55 Brent McDonald

S84 Gavin Storer

S89 Trevor Cooper