The 2021 Ruff’n’Tuff 250 was raced on Saturday in Spooners Forest. The 240km off-road endurance race saw more than 30 competitor take on the 12 lap race through forest trails, ridge lines and gravel roads. Race conditions were good with no rain and a damp track supplying good visibility and grip.
Qualifying put the red-hot favourite, #1 Dan Fisher in the sixth starting position. This gave the Nelson off-roader the optimum start. At sixth, in his V8 powered Razorback, he was always going to be on the minds of the 5 racers in front. And with the path finding duties in the hands of others, all he needed to do was apply the pressure.
When the green flag dropped the entire field roared into the forest. For some this would be the only lap. #192 Ash Kelly’s race nearly didn’t even start. He qualified well, but an electrical issue when the flag dropped forced him to be the last car away, only to suffer a blown clutch in the first 10km, ending his race.
Meanwhile, close to the front, #1 Dan Fisher was moving through the 5 in front. He overpowered them on the long gravel roads and before the first lap ended he had the lead. No longer driving in the spray and shrapnel from other race cars, Dan extended his lead on every lap, completing each 20km lap in 14 minutes. Mid field racers were completing laps in 17 minutes. Unchallenged, he raced on to win the Ruff’n’Tuff 250 and bolster his lead in the ORANZ Championship.
In Dan’s wake the battle for position raged. Rival Nelson racer #110 Alex Bright went from challenging the front running #S12 Slim Slee for second place, to tumbling “end for end” out of the race.
#U91 Tony Terrell had a big roll over after braking something in the steering causing him to hit a tree and end for end it ripping the front right hand corner off the Yamaha UTV.
The carnage created by distance racing in the forest continued with #S68 Mark Davis tearing a wheel off in an off track excursion. #S16 Joel Giddy pulled out with no brakes at lap 6. #S43 Brian Rutgers had a Axel nut come loose and a wheel came off. #385 Dale Mckenzie broke his front suspension and lost an A arm. The A-Arm connects the front wheel to the car. #858 Bruce McKenzie had a oil pump issue which ended his day in somewhat less dramatic fashion.
The overall winners were 1st #1 Dan Fisher, 2nd #S12 Slim Slee and finishing 3rd overall #375 Grant Adamson, racing an older 1600cc car, punched well above his weight, to keep much more powerful Class 1 racers, and the rest of the field, in his mirrors.
This track roars back into life on the weekend of 17 July for the two day race “the New Zealand Enduro Champs”. 700kms total race distance. 60 percent gravel roads, plus haul tracks and ridge lines. This is a fast endurance offroad track that will bring more of the best offroad racers to this forest for a national title.