Racing in his first full year of offroad competition, Tauranga driver Mark Goldstone has fought off all comers to take the northern region championship title.
Driving one of the fastest Challenger VW cars in the sport, Goldstone won Challenger class for vehicles with 1.6 litre VW flat four engines at every round of the northern region competition and proved the value of persistence up against the massed might of the UTV or ‘side by side’ class cars and the unlimited class race cars and four wheel drives.
The final round on the Sunday of Queen’s Birthday Weekend had been moved from Woodhill Forest after recent cyclones battered the tracks mapped out for the race and left the forest unsafe for use. Then the massive rain storm that ran down across New Zealand from the north turned the Makarau track near Kaukapakapa into a greasy nightmare where an abundance of power was more hindrance than advantage.
As the more powerful cars struggled with the lack of grip, Goldstone took his tiny single-seater to a clean sweep of wins in his class. His closest rival, Karl Burbage, was unable to match Goldstone’s pace, his troubles not helped when his car’s engine began to fail.
Goldstone scored a perfect 72 points for the weekend, as did Tony McCall (unlimited class one).
In the unlimited class, McCall was up against experienced racer Alan Hilliam of Dargaville, in his Porsche powered single-seater; Justin Davies in his Cougar Honda Turbo, and Lance Cargill in his Jimco Chev. Cargill has just rebuilt his engine after it failed at the Nelson Ruff’n’Tuff 250 a fortnight before.
McCall had spent the early laps of the first heat finding the limits of adhesion (low) and tracking a range of lines through the ‘wall of death’ hairpin corners in the infield.
As the course began to dry out mid-afternoon Cargill and Davies were able to close the gap on the Manukau driver, but not for long enough to score a win.
The big cars were developing more speed down the start-finish straight, but finding the braking area into Turn One was still a low-grip nightmare.
The sole 4WDBits class 2 entry was Damon Gilberd, making his first ever appearance in the sport in a production-class Mitsubishi Pajero he built himself. Gilberd got to grips with the conditions after finding the first heat very slippery and took maximum points in his class.
Jarrod Marwood was the winner of class three for cars with engines up to 1.6 litres; holding out Taranaki’s Brendon Old.
In class five for cars with engines up to 1.3 litres, it was Regan Swensson who came home top of the class on the day but seasoned campaigner Nick Magness who amassed more points over the three rounds and won the class title for the northern region.
In 4WD Bits classes 4 and 6 Robert Cresswell and Chris Trundle had maximum points before the final northern round and neither entered.
Class seven went to Jack Hellier, whose engine was failing at the previous round but carried him to the class title in close combat with Connor Nicklin, who won on the day but had amassed less points over the series.
In terms of four wheel drives, the 12-strong showing in the JG Civil UTV classes helped salvage some honour.
Carl Reuterman won U class for standard race cars in his Yamaha while in S class for modified UTVs, defending champion Ben Thomasen (Polaris) fought all day with Joel Giddy (Yamaha), with the latter trailing Thomasen home on the day by a matter of three points but winning the S class for the series.
In the Kiwitruck youth categories Jackson Savage won J class on the day, with Lincoln Whiddett winning the class for the series. Harry Hodgson won M class for trucks with motorcycle power units and gearboxes.
Top ten, northern region, 2018 ORANZ New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship (*= class champion)
1st C87 Mark Goldstone 210*
2nd 367 Jarrod Marwood 203*
3rd U22 Carl Ruiterman 200*
4th 333 Brendon Old 199
5th 157 Tony McCall 198*
6th NZ3 Joel Giddy 196*
7th 726 Jack Hellier 190*
8th NZ1 Ben Thomasen 185
9th 517 Nick Magness 183*
10th S17 Nathan Moore 167