Offroad racers prepare for a showdown at Fielding
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The fastest offroad racers in the country converge on Feilding on Saturday in a one-day battle for championship domination.
Already, almost 60 entries have been received including almost all the top unlimited-class racers in the North Island. The one day ‘short course’ event on Saturday 27 August is the last chance for northern racers to gather points before the all-in national final in the South Island at Labour Weekend.
In the unlimited race car class multiple New Zealand champion Tony McCall of Manukau goes up against a five car grid that includes 2016 Woodhill 100 winner Mike Fraser and John Morgan. All three are driving race cars with high output V8 engines, and Fraser is currently leading the class.
Equally spectacular is the GT Radial Tyres unlimited truck class, where northern region outright leader Raana Horan grids up in his massive Nissan Titan four wheel drive against four other V8 trucks including local racer Grant ‘Rowdy’ Rosenburg, Aucklander Colin Sandford in a Toyota Hilux, Mike Preston and Dave Spence.
Palmerston North club spokesperson Andy Briggs says the racing in these and other classes will be intense and exciting.
“Raana Horan is a very competitive driver and he has the national title in his sights. He needs every point and will be out there to win the day – but five trucks into one corner means there’s going to be some fireworks. Likewise in the race car class, where the big bangers are evenly matched and in terms of class points we have all of the top five gridding up.”
The biggest race grid a week out from the event is in class five for cars with engines up to 1.3 litres. Seven class five cars will line up to race including three from Hawkes Bay.
Also likely to deliver close action is class three for cars with engines up to 1.6 litres, where Brendon Midgely leads the class and lines up with six other top racers.
The 4WD Bits truck classes look set to deliver Cameron Taylor, Rex Croskery and Warren Adams uncontested class wins and northern titles.
In V-Dub Shoppe Challenger class, Campbell Witheford leads the points and grids up with Karl Burbage, Peter and Ricky May. The four strong V-Dub Shoppe class seven field includes points leader Fergus Crabb of Albany.
The new wave in the sport is in UTV or ‘side by side’ racing, where Polaris, Yamaha and Can Am all offer competitive race vehicles. The standard-class leader is Mike Alexander, who faces strong challenges from factory Polaris racer Dyson Delahunty, Paeroa’s Mike Small (converting from Polaris to Yamaha), Dion Edgecombe and a new recruit, Palmerston North’s William van der Wal. The modified class is currently led by Ben Thomasen of Mount Maunganui. Entries so far for this round include Thomasen, Carl Ruiterman and Joel Giddy.
There will also be races for the sport’s youth classes, with six of the J-class Kiwitrucks entered including class leader Holly Russell.
Track designed for racers and race fans
Unlimited class leader Mike Fraser, Racer Engineering Toyota, Muriwai
Fast, spectacular, a true racer’s track: Palmerston North club spokesperson Andy Briggs says the club’s 1.44 km clay/dirt track has been designed by the club with spectators and racers in mind.
The track, located at 125 Kawakawa Road and just four minutes from the Feilding town centre, has been ‘naturally watered’ by extensive rain in recent weeks.
It includes a jump through the start-finish line, a sweeping right hander between two large trees leading into a wide open back straight 300 metres long, funnelling racers into a tight right hand corner.
“We then race back down the track to a jump just prior to a tight hair pin left hand turn, a fairly straight run to a small jump in the middle of the course and into a medium right hand corner and back to the front straight. It’s going to give racers plenty of chances to overtake, and the crowd is going to see some great action,” he said.
“We’ve had plenty of water on the track and have been grading and compacting the surface so it’s good, fast and stable. That means the racing will be very spectacular,”
Racing gets under way at 10 am on Saturday 27 August. Spectator admission is $10 per person, $20 per family (two adults and two children 15 years or older). Under-15s are free with accompanying adult. Food and drink vendors will be on site but are cash-only.
In a first for the sport, race fans unable to attend will also be able to watch a live stream of the event on the internet.