Motorsport: Offroad elite gather for National final

By Mark Baker


Motorised mayhem is almost assured when the 2012 Mickey Thompson New Zealand Offroad racing Championship fires up in Hawke's Bay on Saturday.

Over two days, the region hosts the final round of the championship, which has attracted entries from almost 100 race teams across ten classes of race cars and trucks throughout the year.

After six rounds of race action on farms and in forest tracks from Mangawhai in the north to Twizel in the south, the overall winner and class champions will be decided on a fast and spectacular farm course accessed from Matapiro Road at Crownthorpe, 35km southeast of Taradale.

Heading for Hawke's Bay to compete are the offroad racing elite: entrants in the anything-goes Whakatane Commercial Spares unlimited class. This includes Lotto millionaire and longtime offroad racing supporter, Trevor Cooper in the most advanced Cougar race car in existence. The unlimited-class cars can run any engine and their design is subject to minimal restrictions, meaning most cars are capable of 200 km/h plus across the roughest terrain.

Also racing in the unlimited class are Clive Thornton of Whakatane with his powerful Desert Dynamics Chev two-seater; former Hawke's Bay racer Vince Harvey in his Ryan Nissan V6 turbo, and Manukau's Tony McCall in his new BSL Terra Chev single-seater. The northern and unlimited-class winner, Malcolm Langley (Whakatane) has entered and will grid up carrying a maximum 92 points. Close behind in terms of outright speed are the "Super 1600" cars of Leader Products Class 3, where outright southern points leader Wayne Moriarty will pit his Euroblast Cougar Toyota against the biggest field in the event with more than ten of the fast, agile class three cars expected to race this weekend. Christchurch-based Moriarty has the Cougar - a multiple class title winner at national level - up for sale, but says he won't be taking it easy on the car with a class and possible outright title at stake. He lines up against northern region class winner and 2012 Woodhill 100 champion James Buchanan in his Cougar Evo Suzuki.

Race organisers' spokesperson Kenneth Mawson says the event is the ultimate weekend of motorsport for Hawkes Bay. "This is the biggest event in the 2012 racing calendar, we have the best and fastest drivers in the sport coming to the region to race for outright and class titles and the action will be non-stop. We have searched long and hard to locate the right venue for the event, and the race course promises exciting viewing for spectators."

On Saturday, October 20 the racers go wheel to wheel in short course racing on a 1.5km track with competition starting at 10.30 am. The following day, the championship will be decided in a 170km enduro on the same farm that starts at 11am.

North Island regional title winners Jason and Tania Delahunty will go to the final head to head with Nelson's Darrin Thomason in Class 4 for Sport Trucks.

The strong showing in the Class 3 field will mean Wayne Moriarty and James Buchanan have their work cut out to get clear of the starts in the first day's racing. Already equal on numbers is Class 5 for Super 1300 cars, where the local club has five cars entered, all using Suzuki engines, with three more coming from outside the region.

The youngest racer in the field is 14-year-old Taine Carrington, who will race in the VW 1200-engined Class 7.

Challenger VW class cars run 1.6l Volkswagen engines with strict restrictions on components keeping racing close and exciting.

Kenneth Mawson says the trucks and four-wheel-drives are always popular with the crowds, with close racing in all four classes from production to unlimited-class. There are a total of 16 trucks entered.

Upwards of 50 teams are expected to race this weekend along with ten of the sport's new youth category, Kiwitrucks.

Public admission for the event is $10 adult, $5 per child. Racing starts at 10.30am on Saturday and 11am on Sunday.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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