Tauranga's Ben Thomasen has powered clear to complete the first half of the Polaris NZ 1000 off road endurance race today with a full lap advantage.
The fastest qualifier in Friday’s time trial sprints, Thomasen’s UTV Class Polaris RZ-R1000 XP battled with the large-engined Class 1 off roaders of former race winners Clim Lammers (Hikurangi) and Tony McCall (Manukau) in the opening lap of the 54km course in the Ngatira Forest near Lichfield.
Tauranga's Ben Thomasen holds a commanding lead after the first day of racing at the Polaris NZ 1000. COLIN SMITH PHOTO
Lammers lost about 15 minutes with his car jammed against a tree at the beginning of the second lap and McCall was slowed by brake problems later in the second lap which required a lengthy pit stop.
Thomasen completed lap two with his UTV Class Polaris RZ-R1000 XP in the lead and then extended the advantage to 6mins after five laps and 250km had been completed.
Defending champion Clim Lammers has recovered from an early delay to hold second place in his Nissan V6 Turbo Class 1 racer. GREG HENDERSON PHOTOGRAGRAPHY.
Lap six saw him stretched that advantage to more than 30 minutes while Lammers had climbed back from 31st position after his delay to second place. Lammers trimmed Thomasen’s lead back to 26min over the next two laps but crucially came up a few minutes short of beginning his 10th lap before the 3pm chequered flag was shown.
At the 3pm deadline Thomasen was nearly halfway around his 10th circuit and was able to complete the lap to earn a commanding one lap lead.
The big Nissan Titan V8 Thunder Truck of Raana Horan completed the first day in third position, trailing Lammers by 16m 11secs and with just 37secs in hand over the next of the nimble Polaris 1000 machines driven by Steve Rowe.
The mighty Nissan Titan V8 of Raana Horan holds third place after the opening day of the NZ 1000. COLIN SMITH PHOTO
Kyle van Harlingen and Carl Adnitt sharing another Polaris are running fifth and the Mitsubishi Evo powered Class 1 buggy of James Buchanan is sixth. McCall preserved after his early delay and finished the day in seventh position.
Mark Seymour negotiates a muddy section in his Class 10 Barracuda. GREG HENDERSON PHOTOGRAPHY
The field of 86 cars started the event with 14 managing to complete at least nine laps of Saturday racing. Day two begins at 8am on Sunday with another 500km of racing ahead of the surviving teams.
Polaris NZ 1000 – Day 1 results:
1 Ben Thomasen (UTV Polaris 1000) 10 laps 2 Clim Lammers (Class 1 Nissan V6 Turbo) 9 laps 3 Raana Horan (Class 8 Nissan Titan V8) 9 laps, +16min 11s 4 Steve Rowe (UTV Polaris 1000) 9 laps, +16min 48s 5 Kyle van Harlingen/Carl Adnitt (UTV Polaris 1000) 9 laps, +18m 53s 6 James Buchanan (Class 1 Mitsubishi Evo) 9 laps, + 22m 50s 7 Tony McCall (Class 1 BSL Terra-Chev) 9 laps, +23min 31s 8 Tony Radisich/Dave Bonniface (UTV Polaris 1000) 9 laps, + 23min 54s 9 Scott and Colin Buckley (Class 10 BSL Kawasaki) 9 laps, +24m 22s 10 Mike Konings (Class 9 VW Baja) 9 laps, +25m 02s