NZ4WD - - CONTENTS - Story and pho­tos by Mark Baker


Ben Thomasen kicked off his 2017 NZ Of­froad Rac­ing Cham­pi­onship ti­tle de­fence with a win­ning run at the open­ing round of this year’s ti­tle chase in Taranaki in March.

Driv­ing a fac­tory Po­laris RZR 1000 XP, Tau­ranga man Thomasen was closely matched by Joel Giddy in his Yamaha, Nathan Moore in a Po­laris and Hayden McKen­zie in a CanAm – with another four rac­ers wait­ing for any of the lead­ing bunch to put a wheel wrong on the fast clay and pumice-based track.

The event was the first na­tional-level race day held at the Taranaki Of­froad Rac­ing Club’s new short course/sta­dium venue, a highly de­vel­oped per­ma­nent of­froad race track.

It also marked another first, with na­tional cham­pi­onship rules now in­clud­ing pro­vi­sion for noise test­ing. All 60 cars rac­ing at Taranaki passed com­fort­ably, al­lay­ing the fears of some driv­ers.

A crowd of more than 1800 turned out to watch the rac­ing.

Or­gan­is­ers com­bined classes to max­imise on-course ac­tion. Classes 1, 3 and 10 were brought to­gether, as were classes C, 5 and 7 and the 4WD Bits-spon­sored truck/4WD classes and the JG Civil UTV classes.

First blood in class three went to lo­cal racer Brendon Old, fol­lowed home by Jar­rod Mar­wood who posted fastest lap of 56.852 for the 1.3 km course – well ahead of the un­lim­ited class cars which strug­gled to find grip on the well-wa­tered sur­face.

Class act

The class three, class one and class ten cars were run as one heat, giv­ing spec­ta­tors an in­sight into the speed of the top class three cars.

Third in that heat and first in class 10 was another lo­cal, Dan Fromings.

Tony McCall was the fastest un­lim­ited class racer.

Jar­rod Mar­wood was back for re­venge in the sec­ond heat, top­ping the re­sults ahead of Old and Andrew Green

Tony McCall was again fastest in class one and set fastest lap, a 55.716.

Fromings was fifth across the line, win­ning his class again.

The last heat for the com­bined 1-3-10 class saw Old take the che­quered flag, Lance Mitchell sec­ond and Mar­wood third.

Tony McCall made a clean sweep of his class, fourth across the line and set another fastest lap: 53. 539.

Truck’n along

In the 4WD Bits truck classes, Rob Cress­well was first to take a win, tak­ing out the first heat with a com­fort­able 21 sec­ond mar­gin over Welling­ton’s Glenn Tur­vey. Nick Hall was first win­ner in the un­lim­ited trucks class and set the fastest lap of the com­bined heat, a 56.672. In the sec­ond heat, Glenn Tur­vey split the un­lim­ited-class field in his class 4 Toy­ota, tak­ing the class win. Rob Cress­well was a DNF. Mal­colm Lan­g­ley of Whakatane won the heat out­right in his 406 V8 Chev pow­ered race truck, set­ting fastest lap of 57.222. Nick Hal was close be­hind, the win­ning mar­gin just 1.5 sec­onds. In the fi­nal heat Rob Cress­well took line honours; Chris Trun­dle joined to score some class six points, and Nick Hall won the un­lim­ited class 8 and set fastest time of 54.883.

Jack B Nim­ble

The com­bined Chal­lenger-class five­class seven heat saw Jack Hel­lier be­gin his de­fence of his north­ern re­gion class ti­tle – he was fastest in all his class seven heats ahead of Con­nor Nick­lin and set fastest time of the day for the class with a 1:03.302 in heat three. The class five field was dom­i­nated in the early heats by Re­gan Swens­son who posted fastest lap for the class with a 1:01.779 in the third heat. The UTV classes for ‘side by side’ of­froad­ers has been grow­ing strongly year by year and with three man­u­fac­tur­ers now in­volved is the fastest ex­pand­ing cat­e­gory in the sport. There were 18 UTVs rac­ing on the day. De­fend­ing cham­pion Thomasen finished up sec­ond be­hind Giddy in the open­ing heat for the S-class or mod­i­fied UTVs, with Nathan Moore surg­ing through on the at­tack from lap two to end up third. Rick Field and Craig Patch­ing – a new­comer to UTV rac­ing – did not fin­ish. The first U class heat was closer fought, with Pukekohe’s Carl Ruiter­man lead­ing from start to fin­ish and com­ing home the win­ner by nine sec­onds from a charg­ing Dyson De­lahunty, the pair head­ing the full grid of ten UTVs.

Nor­mal ser­vice re­sumes

In heat two, Thomasen took his re­venge, sweep­ing from P6 on the start grid to win

out­right, Giddy cross­ing the line sec­ond .26 sec­onds be­hind and set­ting fastest time of the heat, a 53.076. Third in S class was Rick Field. Carl Ruiter­man kept De­lahunty at bay in the U-class UTVs, sprint­ing from P9 at the start to win out­right. Brian Rut­gers came home third.

The third heat brought Thomasen another S-class win ahead of Giddy, with Nathan Moore third. In the U class the third heat was again won by Ruiter­man, with De­lahunty sec­ond and Mata­mata driver Dion Edge­combe third.

In the last heat, run as an all-in, Thomasen was first in class and third over­all with Hayden McKen­zie sec­ond (fourth over­all) and Joel Giddy third (fifth over­all).

Son of a gun!

The Crabb Rac­ing Ki­witruck youth cat­e­gory saw first-heat wins for Harry Hodg­son (M class), Lin­coln Whid­dett (J class) and Tyler King (K class). Heat two saw Brody Sav­age race to the J class win; Harry Hodg­son win­ning M class and Tyler King win­ning K class. The third heat saw Hodg­son win again in M class, set­ting him­self up for the clean sweep; Whid­dett tak­ing out J class and King again win­ning the K class. A fi­nal run for the Ki­witrucks gave Hodg­son his four from four for a per­fect 72 points in class M. An­dre Eng­land won J class and Tyler King once again won K class.

In to­tal, five driv­ers took clean sweeps and max­i­mum points: Tony McCall, Jack Hel­lier and Mark Gold­stone and in the Ki­witrucks Harry Hodg­son and Tyler King.

The next north­ern round of the 2018 ORANZ of­froad rac­ing cham­pi­onship is at another sta­dium-style farm-based track in Manukau at Colin Dale Park. It is a one-day event on April 21.

Don’t look be­hind you! Nick Hall go­ing hard.

The clay sur­face was well wa­tered, caus­ing trac­tion is­sues for the big banger classes but the UTVs had plenty of grip. Hayden McKen­zie (S98)is a re­cent con­vert, just edged out of a podium by Nathan Moore.

Ben Thomasen out in front.

Brendon Old touches down.

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