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.

Me­dia sight!

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.

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