Colin goes the dis­tance for sec­ond

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By JASON HOW­ELLS

Mata­mata off-road racer Colin Mered­ith drove an en­dur­ing two days and 1000km over rut­ted for­est tracks and open gravel roads to come sec­ond in the As­set Fi­nance Taupo 1000 on Au­gust 19-21.

Out of 87 en­trants Mered­ith qual­i­fied 11th on the Fri­day, fin­ished fifth on the Satur­day and moved up to sec­ond on the Sunday, fin­ish­ing four min­utes ahead of third place.

‘‘It was the last five laps when I had to step up slightly to be sure of sec­ond. The third place-get­ter was hunt­ing me down. It wasn’t all over, I had to keep go­ing.’’

Mered­ith, 61, was humble and played down his vic­tory but said: ‘‘ I was very happy’’.

The Taupo 1000 is a bian­nual off-road event held in Kain­garoa For­est and con­sists of 20 laps at just over 50km a lap and runs for two days. Some cars achieve up to 200kmh.

It is con­sid­ered the tough­est en­durance off-road race of its kind and is also the long­est race in any sport in the South­ern Hemi­sphere.

‘‘I ran the race to sur­vive and fin­ish,’’ said Mered­ith. ‘‘ Some rac­ers place and oth­ers demise – be­cause some cars have bro­ken, rolled out of the race, crashed or had break­downs. There is a 30 per cent at­tri­tion rate.’’

The driv­ing strat­egy was all done un­der the in­struc­tion of Mered­ith’s son Lo­gan who was mon­i­tor­ing on an elec­tronic score­board.

‘‘Out there I re­ally don’t know what’s hap­pen­ing. My son was very much a part of it with me, in­form­ing me.’’

Mered­ith has been rac­ing for eight years and drives un­der the team name Old Man Rac­ing.

‘‘It’s a pas­sion with a lot of com­mit­ment.’’

He drives a pur­pose-built for off-road rac­ing exAus­tralian South­ern Cross, pow­ered by a 3.6 V6 G.M. Quad Cam late model Holden Com­modore en­gine, which he has owned for 12 months.

It has a 12-inch crown wheel, and the frame is chrome-molly.

‘‘ The sus­pen­sion is the most important thing and has to take any rough­ness without slow­ing down and has to cor­ner well.’’

Mered­ith does all the main­te­nance him­self along with his son.

‘‘ The main­te­nance is ap­prox­i­mately three hours for ev­ery hour of rac­ing.’’

Mered­ith has spent much of his life be­hind the wheel of a truck and be­lieves he is build­ing a rep­u­ta­tion as an en­durance racer.

‘‘Even a taxi driver or a bus driver will be a bet­ter long dis­tance driver, as they learn how to con­cen­trate.’’

He said he had al­ways en­joyed rac­ing.

‘‘From an early age I had a fas­ci­na­tion with see­ing how steep an an­gles a ve­hi­cle could and couldn’t go on, as in trac­tors and four-wheel drives; some­where in my later years that be­came more of a pas­sion for speed.’’

Mata­mata woman Debby Hoy­land also com­peted in the Taupo 1000.

Built for speed: Colin Mered­ith came sec­ond in the As­set Fi­nance Taupo 1000 race ear­lier this month.

In action: Colin Mered­ith puts his pedal to the metal on the As­set Fi­nance Taupo 1000 race track.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.