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For California professional off road racer Todd LeDuc the Polaris NZ 1000 endurance race this weekend is a journey into the unknown.
The Cherry Valley, California resident is a guest of Kiwi racer and Lotto millionaire Trevor Cooper, driving one of three cars which Cooper has entered for himself, LeDuc and Aiden Mercer.
Professional off road racer Todd LeDuc. Picture/Colin Smith.
LeDuc and Cooper have known each other for about four years and have raced against each other in US events.
`Trevor invited me here,’’ said LeDuc.
`` He said `you’ve got to come and do the NZ 1000 because it’s the longest and toughest event in New Zealand.’
LeDuc will drive the Kiwi-built Honda Turbo engined Cougar single-seater. Both the car and the terrain will be a journey into the unknown.
LeDuc races in the Lucas Oil stadium truck series and SCORE long distance races (mainly desert events) in Pro 2 and Pro 4 race trucks and also drives the Metal
Mulisha monster truck at Monster Jam events.
``I’ve never raced in the woods before,’’ LeDuc said yesterday while preparing for the race in the Ngatira Forest near Lichfield.
``And I’ve never driven a buggy before either.
``But I’m really looking forward to it. I love new challenges and things that take me out of my comfort zone.
``I’m here to try something new, meet new people and have fun.
``I’m impressed with the event here. It’s cool to see some American cars racing here and the Kiwi cars as well.’’
LeDuc’s car stopped with an electrical problem during the qualifying sprints on a 4.8km track on Friday.
No time recorded it means he’ll start from 86th position on a grid on 88 cars when the field makes a rolling start at 8am for the first 500km of competition.
`` I’ll try to work my way through the traffic and get into a position to race hard on Sunday,’’ he said.
The race starts at 8am Saturday and it’s expected the leading runners will complete the first 500km in about six hours. The second half of the race restarts at 8am Sunday.