ORANZ WEST MELTON
Rookie Andrew McFedries might have won the weekend, but Aucklander John Morgan extended his southern region lead at the two-day Mainland Challenge meeting near Christchurch in June.
Despite his best efforts, John Morgan was only third for the weekend, with the ‘Mayor of Milford’ – Rosco Gaudin – second on points. As always, the Mainland Challenge was held over two days of racing, 15 and 16 June. And though the Saturday featured three short course heats for every class, it was the Sunday’s 250 km endurance race that proved pivotal in deciding the weekend. The first day’s action was held on the Can Am Speedway at West Melton on the club’s purpose-designed course; the second day used part of that course and then sent racers out on a fast and rocky chase through the tracks alongside the Waimakariri River. Northern driver Brendon Midgley had won the Class three heats ( for cars with engines up to 1.6 litres) and in the process set fastest time of the day, putting him on pole for the second day’s endurance race. Andy McFedries was second fastest, Nelson racer Greg Winn third, then John Morgan. Fastest in the 4WD Bits Class was local Bryan Chang, ninth overall. Ricky Lane hadn’t been able to set a fast lap time, the big Chev truck struggling in the soupy conditions.
At the race start, Midgely was overtaken in a matter of 200 metres by the flying McFedries, who surged to the lead in his Can-Am. Midgely lasted only two laps but set fastest time of the day, a 54.184 lap. McFedries dropped sharply down the race order at the end of lap one with a long stop in the pits, fought his way back to third at lap six, dropped back once more then fought his way up to third at the finish. Jardyne Lammers had brought his Nissan V8-engined unlimited class car south all the way from Whangarei. The short course heats didn’t suit the big car, he Lammers took the lead halfway through the second lap of the Enduro... only to DNF with a blown transmission at the end of the fifth lap.
Attrition took its toll
He was not the only front-runner to strike trouble either. Nelson’s Greg Winn took the lead briefly but lost a wheel a lap later and was out. Mike Fraser was next into P1, taking the lead as Greg Winn parked ‘ The General’ and holding it until the white flag lap, when he was forced to take on more fuel in a ‘splash and dash’ stop that allowed John Morgan into the lead and set up an epic battle over the final 25 km lap. Pushing to extend his margin over Fraser, Morgan set the fastest lap of the race, a 22.32.301 on lap eight of ten, 12 seconds clear of Fraser who was second fastest on 22.44.634 on the same lap. “I knew we had to stop for fuel and it wasn’t worth risking a finish to try to run without a stop so we took on 25 litres,” explained Fraser. “Glad we did, because next thing we saw John stopped halfway round the lap and I knew what had happened – he’d gambled on fuel. A really hard way for the battle to end, but that’s racing,” he said. With Morgan out, Nelson racer Cam Stratford came up to second overall at the finish in his class three car. Only seven drivers completed the full distance.
In the separate Crabb Racing Kiwitruck youth category, eight-year-old Jack Brownlees continues to pile up the points and with a clean sweep at the Mainland Challenge is now sitting on 144 after two rounds. He amassed his totals despite rolling in one race and was chased home by Kadin Thomasen ( second on the day and now third for the regional Kiwitruck standings) and Kelan Keith. The southern racers and their northern foes now take a break until the third and final southern round at Otago in September.
Race 1 was the slipperiest of the day, and John Morgan made the most of his Desert Dynamics Chev’s wide track and long wheelbase to take the lead on lap one and win as Jacob Brownlees spun out of contention. In the next heat Morgan won again, this time from pole with Nelson’s Greg Winn bringing The General, his Scorpion Chev two seaters, home second. Whangarei’s Jardyne Lammers was the big mover, up from P6 at the start to the third podium position at the finish. This time it was Mike Fraser’s turn to spin out of a promising finish to be eighth. The final heat saw Morgan complete his trifecta, Winn add another second place to his points tally, and Jacob Brownlees tamed the power of his Mitsubishi Evo engine to be third. Broken steering handed Mike Fraser a DNF.
4WD Bits Class 2
Ron Crosby ( Christchurch) was the sole entry in the class, taking top points across the heats.
Northern driver Brendon Midgley surged through from a low start place of P5 to hold the lead on lap three and on to the flag. Joel Green started on pole, faded to second and held that position to the end. Grant Adamson ( Nelson) improved from fourth at the start to third. In the second heat Midgley again won, this time from pole, with Adamson second and Braden Hill third. The final heat handed Midgley his third win for a clean sweep, the northerner starting from third on the grid. Grant Adamson took a second and Braden Hill was third.
4WD Bits Class 4
Sole entry Darrin Thomason of Nelson was an early scratching from the heats when he nose-dived his Mitsubishi Pajero Evo on the big front-straight jump, winding himself and injuring his back.
Sole entry Daniel Rusbatch made the most of the day, maximizing points toward the southern region class title.
4WD Bits Class 8
Ricky Lane brought Greg Hiddleston’s Chev pickup out for its first run in almost 15 years but went off in the first heat, beaching the big truck on a tyre wall. He scored a second in heat two but was a DNF in heat three when a radiator hose blew. Christchurch racer Bryan Chang took a perfect three from three wins in his GT Radials Chev turbo ProLite. Blair Prebble blew the engine in his Toyota Hilux turbo.
Former production class 4WD racer Ian Simcox won the first heat, leaping from a start position of P5 into the lead at the end of lap one. Andrew Knight followed him through, starting in seventh place and finishing second. Sam Jury was third. Race two: Knight jumped from third at the start to go past Ian Simcox and win, Jorja Storer started fourth, dropped to fifth then worked her way back to be third. Building on race two, in the third race Knight surged from P5 at the start to the front on lap one, and held position to win. Likewise Ian Simcox came from P4 to be second at the flag. Jorja Storer was third.
JG Civil UTV Class U
Rosco Gaudin put in his best performance of the year, winning race one off pole ahead of ex-pat American Cameron Reeves. In the second heat he won again, overtaking Reeves who tucked in behind the Yamaha of Gaudin but stayed far enough back that his vision was not affected by the flying gravel and mud. In the final heat Gaudin sealed a hat-trick of wins, Reeves once more close behind.
JG Civil UTV Class S
James Fleming won the first S class heat from pole position, Ian Cowan in second and Andrew McFedries leaping from eighth to be third at the finish. In heat two, there was a moment that may have been historic in the sport of offroad racing in New Zealand: brothers Andrew and Hamish McFedries won the heat in a 1-2 ahead of Slim Slee. In the final heat, Andrew McFedries made sure of a perfect three-from-three result with Slim Slee second and Hamish McFedries third.
Crabb Racing Kiwitruck Youth class. Class J
In the separate Crabb Racing Kiwitruck youth category, eight-year-old Jack Brownlees continues to pile up the points and with a clean sweep at the Mainland Challenge is now sitting on 144 after two rounds. He amassed his totals despite rolling in one race and was chased home by Kadin Thomasen ( second on the day and now third for the regional Kiwitruck standings) and Kelan Keith ( third on the day and now second for the series thanks to a strong second place at the opening round).
Weekend winner Andrew McFedries (Can-Am UTV).
Braden Hill emerges from the fog…
Jack Brownlees was the dominant driver in Class J/Kiwi Trucks.
Josh Rutledge getting his drift on.
Jardyne Lammers on the gas before his transmission failure.
Slim Slee getting some air in a short course heat.