Motorsport: Hillclimb champ eyes home event

By Colin Smith

Motorsport BOP Inc. has a new national champion in its ranks and a multi-discipline New Zealand championship event on its calendar this weekend.

Tauranga's Ben Thomasen (Subaru Impreza WRX) is the New Zealand hillclimb champion after making the trip to the national final at Westport last weekend.

Holding the series lead after the two North Island preliminary rounds, Thomasen was the sole North Islander to make the trip to Westport and had to battle with Christchurch driver Michael Tall in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo to claim the title.

It's the latest success for Thomasen who took up competing on four wheels after a serious motocross accident and in the last two years he's become a front runner in regional rallying and car club events. It's his first New Zealand title success and betters a runner-up finish during his motocross career.

Thomasen finished third on Saturday's seal event at Denniston and went into the gravel event on Sunday at Burnett's Face Rd trailing Tall by nine points.

"The sealed hill didn't really suit my car with the rally turbo restrictor. It was really steep and also quite fast and third was best I could do," said Thomasen.

"That meant I had to win on Sunday so I really went for it on one of the nicest roads I've ever driven on."

Having secured the hillclimb title, Thomasen is keen to extend his run of success this weekend at the Motorsport NZ Clubsport Champs which the local car club is staging at Baypark.

"I'm going to have a go ... I know my car will be a handful in the motorkhana but if can minimise the time I lose in that then the other two events should suit me better."

The ClubSport champs is a grass roots motorsport championship event and begins with motorkhana driving skill tests - including reversing and parking elements - in the Baypark pit area from 8am on Saturday. In the afternoon the pace picks up with an autocross, also in the pit area.

A five-lap sprint on the Baypark Speedway oval (in clockwise direction) will be held on Sunday although if rain makes the clay speedway track unsuitable the sprint will be moved the motorsport centre at the TECT All Terrain Park.

Motorsport BOP has received over 30 entries for the event and drivers must use the same car in all three elements of event.

The biggest support for the event is coming from Wellington's Harbour Capital Car Club with three teams including defending champion Brent Redington who won last year's Clubsport Nationals in Southland driving a Honda City.

The sprint starts at 9.30am on Sunday and spectator admission to Baypark is free both days.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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