A HOST OF EVENTS KICKS OFF THIS WEEKEND, WRITES COLIN SMITH
Racing on two wheels provides most of the Labour Weekend motorsport headlines with road racing and motocross events set for the three days.
The Hampton Downs circuit hosts the Shorai Batteries Post-Classic International Motorcycle Challenge -- an event that has grown out of the Barry Sheene tribute event organised by the NZ Post-Classic Racing Association.
A busy programme will see bikes from a range of eras in action -- some as early as pre-63 -- while the Pre-72, Pre-82 and Pre-89 categories provide some of the strongest competition.
The BEARS (British, European, American Racing Series) classes and recently created Pre-95 New Era category along with modern and classic sidecars are also included in the two-day programme.
The Hampton Downs event features the return round of a transtasman Australia versus New Zealand teams challenge with Australian teams shipping 24 bikes across for the event. The strong team is looking to turn the tables on the Kiwi riders who claimed a narrow win at the Barry Sheene Festival of Speed at Sydney Motorsport Park earlier this year.
Mt Maunganui's Baypark Speedway
Glen Hindle riding a 1982 Suzuki GSX 1100 and Dean Oughtred on a 1970 Honda CR750 for the Carl Cox Motorsport Team are among leading Australian contenders.
There's also a British contingent, and a team of Japanese riders who are working on plans to establish a reciprocal event at the Suzuka circuit in the near future.
Another element will be a tribute to multi-talented Kiwi motorcycle racer, rally co-driver and motor racer Rodger Freeth.
Practice starts at 9am on Saturday followed by afternoon racing while the Sunday race programme starts at 9am.
Labour weekend is also the traditional beginning of the summer motocross season with the Taupo Motorcycle Club getting the racing year under way with its Huka Honda Labour Weekend Extravaganza at the Digger McEwen MX Park.
A strong field has been assembled for the MX1 (450cc) class, headed by national champion Cody Cooper (Honda), Josh Coppins (Yamaha), Kayne Lamont (Yamaha), Rhys Carter (Kawasaki) and Brad Groombridge (Suzuki) while Courtney Duncan (Yamaha) has entered the MX2 class. The two days of racing sees the Mini MX, Junior and Womens classes in action on Saturday with the Senior MX1, MX2, MX3 and Vets classes racing on Sunday.
Two New Zealand championship events will be decided in the South Island during the holiday weekend.
Reigning New Zealand MX1 champion Cody Cooper
Balance and skill rather than speed will be the priority for riders contesting the New Zealand Moto Trials Championship during the holiday weekend. The Marlborough Motorcycle Club is hosting three days of competition near Blenheim to decide the titles.
And at Twizel the final round of the Offroad Racing Association of NZ national series brings together the leading competitors after three rounds of regional competition .
Short course racing at the Ohau Channel track takes place on Saturday while a 250km enduro will decide the title on Sunday.
Also on four wheels the Manfeild circuit at Feilding hosts the first round of the 2016-17 Independent Race Classes Summer Series.
Categories in the motor racing season opener are the NZ Sixes, Super Mini Challenge, Toyo Tyres Pro7s, Formula First, the BMW Open, 2-litre and E30 classes, 2K Cup and Kiwi Sports Sedans.
Holiday weekend kart action includes North Island and South Island Championship events. KartSport Hawke's Bay is hosting the North Island Sprint Championship at Chemz Raceway while the South Island champs are at Carr's Road Raceway near Christchurch.
Oval track racing also gets a Labour Weekend green light at several North Island speedway tracks. In Auckland, Waikaraka Park Speedway starts its 2016-17 season on Saturday night and the season opener is also set for Mt Maunganui's Baypark Speedway with the first round of a Sprint Car Champion of Champions Series. Palmerston North Speedway also opens on Saturday night and there's a Sunday evening opening meeting for Napier's Meeanee Speedway.
There's plenty of small screen motorsport over Labour weekend. The Castrol Gold Coast 600 wraps up the Pirtek Enduro Cup segment of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship with 300km races Saturday and Sunday before the teams pack up and head to New Zealand for the ITM Auckland 500 at Pukekohe (November 4-6).
MotoGP is also in action with the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island while Formula 1 is in the United States, at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas.