Kurow. Magnificent. What a place to race. The Otago club is very lucky to have a dedicated hard core of members to organise their events – and they have run some epic ones in recent years. Now Slim Slee has created a short course track ( just up the road form Richie’s hometown!) with amphitheatre viewing, a huge natural jump and banked turns that let drivers drop in harder and harder every successive lap. Helped by stunning weather, the club staged a superb t wo- day event this year that brought 43 racers to the Waitaki. Looks like we’ll go back there next year, and I reckon even racers who aren’t contesting the Southern rounds should put i t on their bucket list.
We scored some good media time too, with Hamish MacLean making the trip from the Otago Daily Times’ Oamaru office to cover the event. Hamish is a ‘new school’ journalist – he writes, takes photos and does video clips so we ended up with a hard copy story and pic, a story on the ODT’s website, plus the Storer girls were interviewed for an online video post. Take a look: https:// goo. gl / ANLrzG It was great to see the bright red Ford Ranger built by Craig Westgate up in Whangarei come out racing at Kurow too – that’s one hot engine in that lit tle truck, and the presentation and preparation is second to none. Craig used a marine- style vee drive to get power from the Ford 308 engine to the rear wheels and has run i t mainly in endurance races like the Woodhill 100. New owner Cam Stratford isn’t exactly shy either, giving the thing a right old thrashing at Kurow and won a heat when he got better hook- up off the line than I did. Over the five short laps of that heat I chased him down but the risk of trying to pass and win was a bit much to take given there was a title at stake.
Next big thing?
There’s a move now to evaluate a new engine for the Kiwitrucks. A couple possibly – a more cost- effective option for J class and also a 450cc engine for the gearbox trucks. The lat ter would shift the M class goalposts considerably and then of course there are the other 450 trucks running in the USA, which fit adults. It ’s only a thought, but adding 450cc engines might help attract young racers to the class, which was intended as a step up from the J class. At the moment we figure there’s not enough difference between a well driven J and an M. The biggest factor must always be safety – the 450s would have to have four wheel brakes ( not all Kiwitrucks do) and we’d need to be sure people could handle moving to a ‘ big banger’ engine.
Short course revamp
Meanwhile, we have lif t- off – a revamped West Melton short course that removes slower sections of ‘stutter bumps’ will make the racing more spectacular when the final round of the 2018 ORANZ New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship is held there over t wo days of Labour Weekend. The upgrade is the most comprehensive in the history of the Canterbury Offroad Racing Club’s purpose- built track, which is southwest of Christchurch. The final round will involve a day of short course racing on the revamped track on Saturday of Labour Weekend, then a second day of enduro racing in the nearby riverbank tracks and forest roads. After six rounds of racing – three in each island – i t is close at the front: Tauranga Challenger racer Mark Goldstone finished with top points ( 210) with Jarrod Marwood on 205 and Carl Ruiterman 204. All three are northern racers, with just one southern driver in the top ten: Rosco Gaudin, who won JG Civil UTV U class for the south in his Yamaha. Every class leader brings a maximum points score to the final; if they have raced all three regional rounds they get a bonus 20 points to start their weekend. It ’s going to be spectacular. Might see you there!
Situation normal for Cam Stratford and his new Ranger-bodied off-road truck.