Thomasen wins Polaris NZ 1000
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Thomasen wins Polaris NZ 1000 despite puncture
New Zealand’s longest and toughest off road endurance race has been dominated by one of the smallest cars.
Tauranga’s Ben Thomasen driving a 1000cc Polaris UTV continued to build on his first day lead of a full lap to also win the second 500km portion of the Polaris NZ 1000 near Lichfield this afternoon.
In spite of a rear puncture mid-way through today’s racing, Thomasen once again took the chequered flag. Combined with his Saturday winning margin he was the only driver in the 88-strong field to complete 20 laps of the demanding forestry course.
After 1000km of racing in the South Waikato forests the podium comprised James Buchanan (left), race winner Ben Thomasen (centre) and Steve Rowe (right). GREG HENDERSON PHOTOGRAPHY
The only time Thomasen’s pace stumbled was when he picked up a left rear puncture soon after beginning Sunday’s sixth lap.
He drove about 10km on the flailing rubber but then found another Polaris competitor who had stopped with clutch problems and was able to borrow their spare wheel to make a fast roadside change.
``It was a godsend really. I don’t think I would have made it back around,’’ said Thomasen.
James Buchanan drove his Mitsubishi Evo powered class 1 racer to second place. GREG HENDERSON PHOTOGRAPHY
The race winner said dusty conditions in the traffic on the forestry roads was one of the biggest challenges of the race.
``There were places where you couldn’t see anything and I was looking up at the top of the trees to see which way the road went,’’ he said.
With his one lap advantage Thomasen had been happy to settle in behind Sunday fast starters Clim Lammers (Hikurangi) and Tony McCall (Manukau) in the opening laps.
``Today was mainly risk management and keeping up a good pace without hurting the car,’’ Thomasen said.
But as Lammers was delayed by damaged suspension and McCall was slowed with a fuel pump problems, Thomasen’s steady pace also pushed him to the front of Sunday’s standings.
Auckland racer James Buchanan rose from sixth place overnight with a trouble-free Sunday run in his Mitsubishi Evo powered car to secure the runner-up honours.
Offroad racing rookie Steve Rowe (Putaruru) – in just his second competitive event – drove another 1000cc Polaris to third place and McCall eventually salvaged a fourth place finish in his BSL Terra-Chev.
Completing the top-five and continuing the Polaris success was Mt Maunganui’s Dyson Delahunty who was the youngest driver in the race.
The 15-year-old - who has gained racing experience in the offroad racing junior categories – has recently stepped up to a Polaris RZ-R 1000.
Delahunty had overshot a tee-junction on Saturday’s opening lap and damaged the front suspension. He the climbed from 52nd after lap one to 14th place overnight and raced hard on Sunday to gain fifth overall in the late stages of the race.
US racer Todd LeDuc had retired on Saturday with gearbox troubles in the Trevor Cooper-owned Cougar-Honda but took the wheel of Cooper’s Jimco-Chev and raced impressively on Sunday.
He powered from 60th on the grid to eighth place in just two laps but the car shed the dry sump drive belt and LeDuc was forced to retire.
Polaris NZ 1000 – results:
1 Ben Thomasen (UTV Polaris RZ-R1000) 20 laps, 15h 37m 35.2s
2 James Buchanan (Class 1 Mitsubishi Evo) 19 laps
3 Steve Rowe (UTV Polaris RZ-R1000) 19 laps
4 Tony McCall (Class 1 BSL Terra-Chev) 19 laps
5 Dyson Delahunty (UTV Polaris RZ-R1000) 19 laps
6 Mike Small (UTV Polaris RZ-R1000) 18 laps
7 Alan Hilliam (Class 1 Porsche) 18 laps
8 Justin Leonard (Class 8 Chevrolet V8) 18 laps
9 Donald Preston (Class 8 Toyota V8) 18 laps
10 Mike Konings (Class 9 VW Baja) 18 laps