Motorsport: Tarawera track offers tough test

By Colin Smith

Saturday morning will see about 200 highly tuned motorcycles kick-started into life as riders set off the conquer the 160km challenge of the Tarawera 100.

The midwinter off-road endurance race near Kawerau is being staged for the 35th time this year and is sponsored by Tony Rees Honda of Whakatane.

Leading entries include three-time winner and international motocross racer Cody Cooper (Papamoa) on a Suzuki 450, Yamaha's MX2 motocross champion Darryll King (Hamilton) on a 250cc machine and last year's runner-up, Rhys Carter (Papamoa), on a Suzuki 250.

The top Enduro hopes include Mokau rider Adrian Smith (Yamaha) and Tauranga's Reece Burgess (Husaberg) who finished third last year and Rotorua's Scott Birch (Honda).

The Tarawera 100 is unusual in that it attracts riders from the motocross, cross-country and enduro two-wheel racing disciplines as well as recreational trail riders.

Four laps of the 40km forest and farmland track plus pit stops for refuelling are expected to take the leading riders just over three hours to complete.

Other classes include veterans and super-vets categories races over three laps and a novice class over two laps.

"I believe it will be a tougher track than the past few years," said Tarawera Trail Bike Riders Club president Steve McIlroy, who is part of a team of volunteers who have been busy marking out the course.

"At the end of the day this is the country's premier off-road endurance race and we don't want to make it too easy."

The start is followed by a motocross loop before heading into the firebreaks, single trails and gravel roads of the forest near Kawerau.

"We've basically turned the track around and will run it in the reverse direction to last year," McIlroy said.

"Each lap is about 40km and there's some new stuff and some old stuff.

"With the wet weather and some blade work there will be some mud sections which will challenge the riders.

"We try to create a balance so some parts of the track will suit the motocross guys and other parts are best suited to the enduro riders." The race gets underway with a dead-engine "shotgun" start at 10am. Spectator access to the start-finish and pits venue is at Tahuna Rd, Te Teko.

Gravel rally

Motorsport Bay Of Plenty is running a gravel rally sprint in the Mamaku Forest this Sunday.

A 9km course using Ngawaro Rd and Galaxy Rd will be used in both directions, with the service area and event headquarters located in the motorsport hub at the TECT All Terrain Park on State Highway 36.

Practice runs will begin at 9.30am followed by three competitive timed runs in each direction.

The results will be decided by the competitors' fastest runs in each direction.

Spectator sites will be restricted to foot access from the special stage start line.

Pro Kart

With the Bay of Plenty Kart Club preparing for a big July 28 and 29 double-header of Rotax Challenge and Pro Kart Formula S series racing the fields for the fun day last Sunday were boosted by several visiting racers.

KZ2 Masters front runner Tom Curran and Rotax Max Heavy racer Andrew Grant both took fun-day wins as they prepared for the event.

Sunday's racing at Fagans Valley Raceway began with a chilly start but was completed in brilliant midwinter weather with 45 drivers in action.

The club's youngest drivers in the cadets category produced the closest racing with five heats of racing from the 14-strong field producing four different race winners.

The top four drivers were separated by just two points at the end of the day's racing.

Joseph Terry claimed the cadets win, edging out Callum Hedge and Adam Bell by one point.

Hunter Cheetham was fourth only one point further back.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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