Motorsport: Aussie champs join the fray for Baypark action

By Colin Smith -
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The FIA World Rallycross Championship has been attracting large crowds and spectacular 4WD turbo cars. PHOTO McKlein/IMG
The FIA World Rallycross Championship has been attracting large crowds and spectacular 4WD turbo cars. PHOTO McKlein/IMG

Plans and entry lists are firming up for the international event that brings the return of rallycross to the New Zealand motorsport calendar.

The Teng Tools New Zealand International Rallycross will be staged at Mt Maunganui's Baypark stadium next weekend.

Promoted by Ron Dixon, the rallycross will use a purpose-built track combining parts of the clay surface speedway oval and stadium infield with the concrete and tarmac surfaces of the speedway pit area. Grids of six cars will compete in quick-fire heats and semifinals leading to eight-car class finals.

Read more: Tauranga gears up for international rallycross

Leading local rally drivers and offroad racers will be joined by two entries from Australia that provides the opportunity for a transtasman challenge.

Former Targa Tasmania winner Steve Glenney won Australia's inaugural Extreme Rallycross event last year in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo8 and Tasmanian Marcus Walkem, the 2014 Australian 4WD Rally champion, will run a Lancer Evo9 rally car.

"They are both champion drivers," Dixon said.

The event is a mixture of Rally, Honda Cup and 2K Cup cars complying with Motorsport NZ regulations and the spectacular trucks and buggies and giant-killing side-by-side UTV racers which race under Offroad Racing Association rules.

"The entries have been flowing in steadily with the usual last-minute surge," Dixon said.

"I've been 'head down' busy with all of the organisation but the logistics side of the event has been finalised.

"The last details of the course are being settled. We've been talking to the competitors and we'll build some bigger jumps for the offroaders because they thought the ones for the rallycross cars were a bit small."

Dixon sees this month's event as laying the foundation for larger scale international rallycross events at Baypark.

"I'm going to the US in May and I'll be talking to some of the teams over there."

The event starts with practice from 3pm on Saturday, February 27. Qualifying heats run under floodlights from 8pm till 10pm.

Sunday's action starts at noon with more heats followed by semifinal eliminations.

The finals - decided on points over three races per class - are set for 5.15pm.

Leading offroad drivers already committed to the event are multiple national champion Tony McCall (Auckland) in his 6.2-litre BSL Terra-Chev class one racer and reigning champion Ben Thomasen (Tauranga) who will be driving the latest turbocharged Polaris RX-R racer.

From the rally scene some of the top competitors include 2015 NZ Rally Championship runner-up Phil Campbell (Tauranga), Mt Maunganui's David Holder and Rotorua's Sloan Cox, all driving Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions.

Hamilton driver Stuart MacFarlane - who was one of the front-running competitors when top-level rallycross was last staged in New Zealand at Hamilton's Mystery Creek in the late-1970s and early-1980s - has entered in his classic Porsche 911 rally car.

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