The forest heats up for the annual Woodhill 100 race
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The annual Queen’s Birthday weekend Woodhill 100 offroad enduro race has attracted a record field of the spectacular Class 1 "unlimited’’ race cars for this Sunday’s second round of the New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship.
After a temporary hiatus caused by a cyclone, the North Harbour Vehicles sponsored event returns to its traditional start venue and the fast and sandy pine forest roads and fire breaks of the Woodhill Forest with an entry list that has risen past 70 teams.
The race will reward some and shatter the dreams of any who underestimate its challenges, according to Offroad Racing Association national president Martin van der Wal.
‘‘The Woodhill 100 is the fastest, toughest and often the shortest event in New Zealand offroad racing,’’ van der Wal said.
‘‘It chews up and spits out some of the best drivers and race vehicles in the sport.
Racers need to come to this one prepared for a full day of flat-out racing and severe punishment on some of the toughest tracks in the championship,” he said.
The strong Class 1 field is headed by Manukau racer Tony McCall who is out to achieve a record seventh Woodhill 100 win in his Chev powered BSL single-seater.
McCall’s likely Class 1 challengers include Karl Fenton who gave his immaculate Concrete Motorsports Jimco Chev a debut win at the Makarau opening round in April, then rolled the car in the second of three heats.
Alan Butler has recently upgraded his Chenowth Millennium to V8 power and Dan Fisher is coming north from Nelson to race, leading a pack of southern raiders that includes Owen Chang, Donald Preston, and newcomer Alex Bright.
Providing a giant-killer challenge to the Class 1 racers are the leading drivers in the UTV categories.
The field includes 13 modified UTVs headed by defending champion Carl Ruiterman (Pukekohe) who is readying a new modified (S Class) Yamaha for battle. After the first round of the national series Ruiterman and category sponsor Joel Giddy are tied on points for the class.
Tauranga’s Dyson Delahunty leads U class for standard UTVs in the new Polaris single-seater. There are 10 entries in U class including the ultra-competitive Dion Edgecombe of Matamata in another of the Polaris single-seaters.
Also challenging for an overall win will be the Class 8 Trucks.
Currently leading the class is Whakatane’s Mal Langley in a four-wheel-drive Chev-powered Toyota Tundra who will go up against Drury racer Nick Hall in a Toyota Hilux ProLite, also with Chev power. The others currently entered are Russell Vare (Manukau), James Hayes (Auckland), and Palmerston North’s Grant Rosenburg.
The 2019 Woodhill 100 takes place on Sunday with spectator access from the southern (Muriwai) end of the forest. Racing is due to start at 11.00am and spectator admission is $10 per person.