There was a long wait before Ben Thomasen (Tauranga) was certain he had secured pole position for this weekend’s Polaris NZ 1000 offroad endurance race.
A field of 88 drivers attempted a Friday qualifying run on the 4.8km short course in the Ngatira Forest near Lichfield in the South Waikato - ahead of 1000km of racing through the weekend.
Thomasen was the fourth driver onto the course shortly after 10.30am and clocked a 3m 31.510s lap which still stood five hours later after multiple delays for breakdowns and minor incidents.
When qualifying wrapped Thomasen had given race sponsor Polaris pole position with one of the RZ-R 1000 XP machines which contest the UTV class.
Many of the high powered Class 1 buggies and Class 8 Thunder Trucks ran later in the order, hoping conditions would dry out but still couldn’t better Thomasen’s effort.
Tony Quinn made a late-entry with a Holden Colorado V8. COLIN SMITH PHOTO
``It was a nerve wracking day,’’ said Thomasen.
``Pole position doesn’t mean a lot in a 1000km race but it does give you the chance to get an early break and avoid some visibility problems and maybe some overheating issues.’’
Raana Horan puts four wheel drive and Nissan V8 power to the ground in his Nissan Titan Class 8 Thunder Truck. COLIN SMITH PHOTO
Lined up alongside Thomasen will be Hikurangi’s Clim Lammers, the defending champion of the biennial event which was staged near Taupo in 2013.
Lammers clocked a 3m 36.215s qualifying lap in his Nissan V6 Turbo engined Class 1 racer.
The second row and third rows also pair up a Class 1 machine with one of the Polaris UTVs.
Former winner Tony McCall (Manukau) was third fastest in his BSL Terra Chev (3m 36.770s) and Pukekohe’s Carl Ruiterman lapped the Polaris he’ll share with Joel Giddy in 3m 37.215s.
Drifting ace Carl Ruiterman was the second fastest of the Polaris drivers and will start from fourth position sharing with Joel Giddy. COLIN SMITH PHOTO
Whakatane’s Malcolm Langley in his Mitsubishi Evo powered Class 1 machine (3m 37.791s) and Polaris racer Tony Radisich (3m 41.282s) form the third row.
The best of the Class 8 entries was Raana Horan who will start ninth in his four-wheel-drive Nissan Titan while Paul Hussey was 12th and the fastest of the Class 10 motorcycle engine racers in a Barracuda single seater.
Part of the line-up for qualifying runs at the Ngatira Forest venue. COLIN SMITH PHOTO
Lotto millionaire Trevor Cooper has qualified 42nd in his V8 Class 1 machine but the two other entries in his team failed to post a lap time and will start on the tail of the field.
California racer Todd LeDuc had an electrical problem which halted with his Honda Turbo powered buggy and Cooper’s third entry - the Class 8 truck of Aiden Mercer - hit a tree on it run.
International GT racer - and owner of the Highlands and Hampton Downs race circuits –Tony Quinn in a V8 Holden Colorado has qualified 31st.
The race begins at 8am on Saturday with the first 500km of racing on the 50km forestry course expected to take the leading drivers about 6 hours to complete. The race restarts 8am on Sunday for another 500km.