This weekend the “Mainland Challenge”, the third round of the ORANZ South Island Championship, is back at West Melton’s Can Am Raceway Offroad Racetrack. The Championship series is coming down to the wire with Nelson racer #1 Dan Fisher leading the charge. And he’s bringing his maximum points advantage to Christchurch along with dozens of other racers from all parts of the South Island and a few from the North Island to race for the title. Last week it was looking really good for Dan. But in the last few days, the weather gods have had their say. Sorry Dan, you’re no longer the red hot favourite. My moneys now on something with 4wd and the ability to run strong in extreme conditions. This time I think it will be #S12 Slim Slee who will come to the fore. His 4wd turbocharged CanAm Maverick should do the job, providing the driver can be as robust as his ride.

All of the rain is leaving behind a whole lot of mud. And mud is not something that the offroad racers will shy away from. The race cars all feature Mud Terrain tires designed to dig through the soft stuff to reach the drivable base. And then, this mud will fly.

Not many have windshields, because once the mud builds up on it, the drivers vision is completely compromised.

That flying mud will also coat the driver. But the offroad racer is ready for this. With visor Roll-offs, Tear-offs and Mud-Muncher systems designed to allow visibility in extreme mud environments.

That doesn’t mean the mud will be easy to race through. The overalls will get saturated with all the water that the mud holds. And it will get cold… really cold. 5 laps in Shortcourse could take longer because of reduced traction and if you’re soaked and cold it will feel a lot longer. When they get to the Enduro on Sunday it will really be a test for the endurance of the driver.

The engines will also suffer as the air intakes and filters get clogged with water soaked mud. The high voltage spark will track away from the plugs if the mud gets into the top of the engine. The mapping of the engine will not be setup for a cold and wet environment. The sensors can read wrong and then deliver bad information to the engine management systems, putting the engine into “limp mode” or worse. And even if you can keep the horsepower coming, you might not be able to stop as fast or successfully enough to make sharp turns. All up, Rain = Mud = Chaos.

But while everybody is suffering through the same problems, it becomes a different kind of a race. This weekend it will be the best racer for the conditions that will come through, and it might not be the one with the most horsepower and most expensive race car. Expect the racer who can stay warm, calm and can keep moving forward when the rest are suffering to have a huge advantage.

Saturday 5 June is the Shortcourse racing day. This is a  great opportunity for the public to get a close up look at the race cars at the main tabletop jump where all classes will get airborne.

This will be action packed racing with tight corners, sweeping corners and fast straights. You’ll see the whole track from the main spectator area. You’ll also find Hot Chips, Hot Dogs and Hot Coffee in this area.

Each Class will race 3 heats of 5 laps in the Shortcourse competition, collecting points that go toward their Championship standings.

Sunday 6 June is the Forest Enduro. this is an all-in feature race over a much longer distance. Each lap includes the Shortcourse track as entry and exit into the adjoining forest. Competitors will endure a bone crunching 250 kilometre race distance made up of 10 x 25km loops.

This is going to be one of the hardest races of the season, in very unpleasant conditions. Who’s going to cross the line first and receive the chequered flag? Whoever it is, they will be one of the most deserving race winners of the 2021 offroad racing season.

The 2021 JG Civil New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship Series, South Island, Round 3

Hosted by the Canterbury Off Road Club at the CanAm Raceway – Weedons Ross Road, West Melton, Christchurch.

Spectator Entry : Adults $10 and children under 15 FREE – Gates open at 10am for spectators.