Nelson offroad racers are predicting a chilly reception for drivers in this weekend’s Ruf’n’Tuf 250, their round of the 2015 ENZED Offroad Racing Championship.
Local club members are a welcoming bunch, but unless the weather breaks out of its current polar freeze racers will be finding things tough in the 250 km forest enduro. Organiser Darrin Thomason says final track preparations by crews over the past few days have been carried out in subzero temperatures. Puddles on the track remain frozen throughout the day with up to 100 mm thick ice.
“There are places where you can avoid the ice and freezing water but we also have some shallow creek crossings and muddy sections that will be freezing cold and are unavoidable,” he says.
Locals, he claims, are well used to the conditions; the ‘city folk’ from Christchurch may find things hard going.
Nelson punches above its weight in the championship. A strong turnout of eight drivers from the Nelson club includes Nevil Basalaj, currently leading the Achilles Radial backed unlimited race car class, Cam Stratford, also running in the unlimited class; Darrin Thomason in his Mitsubishi Pajero is entering class four for sports improved trucks and four wheel drives; Greg Winn will race his tough RV Magnum two seater in class three for race cars with engines up to 1.6 litres as will Josh Rutledge and Daniel Rusbatch; John Strickett is racing in Challenger VW class; and Mike Holmes in Polaris U class.
Coming to town from other parts of the South Island are unlimited truck class racers are defending national champion Owen Chang (Ford Falcon turbo, Christchurch) Carl Gardner (Nissan V8 ute, Dunedin), Gavin Storer (Toyota Hilux V6, Christchurch) and Andrew Johnston (Nissan Navara V8, Christchurch).
Wayne Moriarty of Christchurch is bringing his US-built Alumicraft single seater to contest class three.
Rosco Gaudin – the self-styled ‘Mayor of Milford’ – is the leading class 10 entry in his Edge Barracuda.
There are three northern drivers coming: Roger McKay heads south from Taupo while his crew bring his Polaris RZR 1000 up from Winton; Hawkes Bay racer Shayne Huxtable will drive Vinnie Harvey’s unlimited-class single seater, while Glen Raymond is bringing his recently imported Bowler Tomcat V8 down for a run in class 8 for unlimited trucks and 4WDs. The Tomcat will be a comfortable ride, based on late model Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover running gear. It also has a full cab and runs a windscreen.
The final event entry is likely to top 40 cars.
Racing in the 2015 Greg Winn Contracting and Hire Now Ruf’n’Tuf 250 gets under way in the Hancock Forest near Dovedale at 11.00 am on Sunday.