Offroad Championship hits Nelson Forests

  • Polaris RZR1000 racer, Roger McKay, in action at the New Zealand Enduro Champs in July - Picture by Mark Baker

    Polaris RZR1000 racer, Roger McKay, in action at the New Zealand Enduro Champs in July – Picture by Mark Baker

     

  • Racers return to Dovedale
  • New challenge for new UTV class
  • Strong turnout for final points grab

Nelson’s Dovedale Forest has barely stopped echoing to the sound of high performance race engines and the offroad racers are back for more: the Total Lubricants Nelson Ruff N Tuff 250 brings the south’s top drivers back into the course used for the recent Endurance Championship, won last month by Ben Thomasen.

The event is the third round of the 2014 New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship, and with the northerners absent the battle remains between the high performance unlimited class trucks and race cars – and the new wave of UTV racers.

Absent from the enduro championship event but making sure he’s in line for a final top-up of points in the championship is Christchurch racer Vinnie Harvey in his Ryan single-seater, now repowered with a Mitsubishi Evo engine from the Nissan V6 he campaigned last year. He goes up against fast locals including Nevil Basalaj in his mighty Jimco Chev V6 and Ashley Kelly in the Hydraulink Cougar Evo VW.

Christchurch’s Wayne Moriarty leads a six-strong entry in class three for race cars with engines up to 1650cc, with local driver Greg Winn keen to make his mark in the RV Magnum Toyota.

Clint Densem and Graham Fleming go wheel to wheel in class five for race cars with engines up to 1.3 litres, while Challenger VW class regulars John Strickett, Rob Palmer and Paul Cooper will be joined by enduro challenge organiser Darrin Thomason, a dedicated truck-class racer until this year.

There are six UTV-class racers entered, with championship southern leader Roger McKay of Winton aiming to maximise points to carry forward to the national finals in October at Christchurch.

Damien and Wade Halliday are entered in class 10 for race cars with motorcycle engines.

There are two racers in the Kiwitruck youth category, Christchurch sisters Jorja and Brooke Storer.

Their dad Gavin is one of two unlimited-class race truck entries, bringing his V8 four wheel drive Pro Lite north to go up against Owen Chang in the GT Radial Ford Falcon Pro Lite – the original truck built to the popular American design in this country.

Steven Boyd heads up a three-strong production race truck entry in his giant-killing Suzuki.

Nelson Offroad Racing Club has secured the enduro track after careful management of roads drew praise from the forest managers. Scrutineering and time trials happen on-site in the forest from 7:30am with racing to start at 10:30am.

Leading entries for the 2014 Ruff’n’Tuff 250 at Nelson:

Frontline projects/Phoenix Engineering class one

125 Vincent Harvey
173 Nevil Basalaj
185 Cam Stratford
192 Ash Kelly

Class two production race trucks

218 Steven John Boyd
231 Teun Buijs
250 Ron Crosby

Class three race cars up to 1650 cc

312 Wayne Moriarty
341 Carl Gardner
352 James Fleming
353 Blair James Prebble
371 Greg Winn
375 Josh Rutledge

Class five race cars up to 1300cc

572 Graham Fleming
577 Clint Densem

Class 8 unlimited race trucks

840 Gavin Storer
847 Owen Chang

V-Dub Shoppe Challenger class

C22 John Strickett
C82 Rob Palmer
C99 Paul Cooper

Polaris class u

U01 Donald Preston
U15 Grant Dickson
U21 Mike Holmes
U55 Bob Uttridge
U66 Roger McKay
U68 Tim George

Kelso Kontracting class 10

1019 Damian Halliday
1026 Wade Halliday

Kiwitruck

J31 Jorja Storer
J39 Brooke Storer

Offroad Racing Showdown in the Sunshine Capital

#U20 Ben Thomasen in Enduro winning form in 2014

#U20 Ben Thomasen in Enduro winning form in 2014

Tauranga UTV racer Ben Thomasen will go wheel to wheel with the might of the unlimited class offroad racing elite in his Polaris RZR 1000 when the Bay of Plenty hosts the northern final round of the 2014 New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship in early October.

SUNSHINESHOWDOWN HEADER lores

The 2014 Sunshine Capital Showdown is a full day of spectacular offroad racing action brought to racers and spectators by the same team who created the epic series of Matata national championship events over the past decade including the Wild Offroad Stampede. It is the last chance for North Island competitors to score points before the national finals in Christchurch at Labour Weekend.

Thomasen, the newly crowned New Zealand Endurance Champion, is racing toward his first championship title. At Matata he will race against all North Island UTV-class competitors in short course class-by-class heats before taking on the likes of multiple New Zealand Champion Tony McCall, Toyota Hilux V8 Thundertruck driver Jono Climo and Raana Horan’s Nissan Titan V8 in the afternoon’s 200 km endurance race.

Tony McCall leads the unlimited class in his spectacular BSL Terra Chev single-seater race car with 106 points; Thomasen similarly leads the UTV class and carries the hopes of Polaris into this round of the championship with 124 points. Jono Climo did not contest the opening round and is second in class 8 behind Wellington’s Justin Leonard.

In the fast-growing UTV (side-by-side) class, Thomasen will be racing for points against Paeroa’s Mike Small and a likely record turnout of other fast North island entrants.

Showdown organisers Gary Baker and Jared McGillivray say the top racers could hardly be more different in character but share one trait: an aggressive driving style born of their absolute passion to win.

“We’re plotting a fast and spectacular course to test these guys and aiming to put on a fantastic show in the process. One thing is certain: the truck and race car classes will get to use top gear at this round and the UTVs will be watching their mirrors all day,” said McGillivray.

The event will be staged at one venue in a valley behind the coastal town of Matata, scene of many spectacular battles for national titles in recent years. In a departure from other championship rounds, all racing will be held on the Saturday. Baker, who is a long-time competitor in the unlimited class 8 for Thundertrucks, says the course will be fast and will be designed for maximum thrills and minimum mechanical mayhem.

“We make jumps that let racers grab big air but don’t smash up their gear, we create fast speedway-style corners where drivers can show their skills, and we pack all the action into one day at one venue which is great for racers, families and spectators. It’s going to be a heck of a day,” he said.

Hampton Downs Polaris Off Road Park – Opens in October

Hampton Downs trackmap1

Hampton Downs Motor Sport Park will expand activities at its complex this October with the opening of a huge park for casual and competition off road use.

Polaris, the world’s largest off road vehicle producer has taken up naming rights and the new venue will be known as the Hampton Downs Polaris Off Road Park.

The off road park is a new concept for off road motorsports, providing accessibility to a well-established facility on a weekly basis with track hire available all season. It will cater for casual use every Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 4pm during a season that will run from October to May and will cater for bikes, ATVs, UTVs and off road race cars. There are plans for regular competitive events and brand new “Skids 4 Kids” days will also be a feature, encouraging younger generations to become involved. Major partner Polaris sees it as a great fit in its drive to increase popularity and sales of its factory-produced range of off road recreation and competition vehicles.

Park Manager Ian Foster believes The Polaris Off Road Park will be significant for the growth and exposure of the sport which is often conducted in remote, one-off, locations. “The aim is to grow the sport by giving anybody and everybody the opportunity to experience off roading in a controlled environment with competitions at the venue to expose the sport of Off Road Racing to the general public,” he explained.

A focus will be on the factory produced class of UTV vehicles, which are fast becoming popular for both recreation and competition. The first UTV Championship will be a feature of the season and will be staged in conjunction with a revived Off Road Grand Prix Series. Auckland Off Road Racing Club has booked eight dates to run Off Road Association of New Zealand (ORANZ) sanctioned events at the park over next summer, which will include a National Championship round.

Hampton Downs circuit is already popular amongst the country’s car brands and the new facility will also be available for dealer demonstration days, corporate ride days and track hire during weekends and week days by appointment. The public will also be welcome to hire an off road vehicle on offer or bring their own, trailered, machine to any of the public weekends scheduled throughout the summer season.

Further information is available at www.hamptondownsoffroadpark.co.nz and you can follow latest updates at www.facebook.com/hamptondownsoffroadpark

Thomasen survives ice challenge to dominate Nelson Enduro

#U20 Ben Thomasen takes the chequered flag and the outright victory in the 2014 Total Lubricants New Zealand Enduro Champs in his Polaris RZR 1000

#U20 Ben Thomasen takes the chequered flag and the outright victory in the 2014 Total Lubricants New Zealand Enduro Champs in his Polaris RZR 1000 – Photo and story by Mark Baker

Tauranga’s Ben Thomasen wasn’t keen on crashing through 10mm-thick ice in his Polaris RZR 1000, but he did what was required at the two-day 2014 Total Lubricants New Zealand Endurance Championship held at Dovedale over the weekend.

The event is the toughest offroad race on the 2014 New Zealand competition calendar, and bitterly cold days with sub-zero overnight temperatures made things extra challenging for the majority of the drivers, whose vehicles are open to the elements.

Thomasen won in emphatic fashion, starting with pole position in qualifying on Saturday morning  and following through into a determined drive when the flag dropped at 11.00 am that morning. Though the Polaris four wheel drives are light and agile and have excellent grip, Thomasen said the day-long near-zero temperatures with 120 km/h windchill and the tight, challenging hill course in pine forests made for a constant challenge.

“It was very, very cold out there in the wind and the ice in the valleys basically never went away, so I was ducking down behind the car’s single wind deflector a lot but the course was so tight I really had to work hard to stay on the road.”

A succession of icy water splashes and creek crossings soon soaked the drivers of all but the lone production-class race truck of Lucinda Maynard and Mike Hay and the challenge truck class Jeep of Wellington’s Don Morgan, which retain a windscreen and heater. The drivers in the nine-strong ‘UTV’ class entry – Thomasen going up against seasoned offroad racers – were completely exposed to the chunks of ice that flew up off the puddles as they completed each 42 km lap.

“I got a face-full on one lap and just about couldn’t breathe!”

Thomasen said his crew joked afterward that he had completed his own Ice Challenge, referring to the fundraising craze sweeping the internet over the past month.

Polaris, Can Am and Arctic Cat race cars are the latest class sanctioned for competition by the sport’s governing body. All-wheel-drive, engines that have excellent mid-range torque and car designs that are strong and light are their key advantages, though they are limited by their relatively short range and a top speed substantially less than the big unlimited class cars and trucks: 120 km/h vs up to 200 km/h.

The battle on the first day quickly became a David and Goliath affair with Thomasen fending off other UTV-class teams and the might of the unlimited class entries. Six of New Zealand’s fastest class one offroad race teams were entered in the event, three from the North Island and the others from Nelson. Only Nelsonians Nevil Basalaj and Ashley Kelly were  able to bring the fight to Thomasen.

Behind Thomasen as the first day of racing reached middle distance, local driver Kelly was striving to chase down the flying Polaris, but was slowed by a flat tyre and then power steering problems.

Winton’s Roger McKay in another Polaris was battling Kelly for second on the road by the end of the first day, Kelly narrowly edging him out. Nevil Basalaj had recovered from an abysmal qualifying sprint that saw him start toward the rear of the field and was pushing the big Jimco Chev through to catch the leaders.

Aucklander Ernie Hogg was also looking to claw his way up through the field in The General, his two-seater Scorpion Chev race car, but found the tighter sections of the course a challenge. As did the race’s international entry, ex-pat Kiwi Mike Hughes. His massive V8 engined Ford F150 was up against the Nissan Safari V8 of Carter Strang and the V8 supercharged Toyota Hilux of Paul Preston. All three were keen to stay on the same lap as leader Thomasen, but Hughes’ unlimited-class challenge was not helped by two flat tyres and an off-track excursion late in the race. He was extricated from the trees by Lucinda Maynard in her production class Toyota Landcruiser.

By mid-afternoon the first day of racing belonged to an elated Thomasen, who had managed to fight off the big unlimited-class race cars and the throng of UTVs despite having to pit for fuel after three of the day’s six laps. He took the chequered flag after 250 km with the fuel warning light blinking on the dash of his Polaris.

At Sunday’s restart, Thomasen had Ashley Kelly, Roger McKay and another Nevil Basalaj, crowding his rear bumper. McKay started third and shot past Kelly but then the superior power of Kelly’s Cougar VW saw him regain second, while Basalaj’s massive Jimco was close behind McKay and the Nelson driver was looking for a way past.

2014 Total Lubricants New Zealand Enduro Champs - FINAL RESULTS

2014 Total Lubricants New Zealand Enduro Champs – FINAL RESULTS

Kelly then made a wild overtaking charge in the fast road sections, but slid wide and rolled the Cougar into the trees. It was the end of his race.

Roger McKay retook second and set off after Thomasen, who had stretched out a lead of almost a minute by the end of the lap. Basalaj was close behind  but the battle for second between the pair meant Thomasen was able to preserve his lead and ease off the pace slightly, conserving fuel. He made his scheduled fuel stop and the third lap of the day and was out in front of Basalaj, who had pitted at the same time.

Many of the other drivers in the class were being slowed by punctures.

The sole Arctic Cat in the class, Donald Preston’s Wildcat, developed a misfire and he stopped on the track.

There were no such problems out the front as Thomasen continued to extend his lead and attrition reduced the field to ten cars or less.

“The second day was great because we knew we could do three laps okay, so I was watching the fuel consumption. But then in the final three Roger was closing in on me so I had to push a bit harder. That was a bit tricky, but I didn’t want him to get past,” he said.

The race was decided in Thomasen’s favour with one lap to run when McKay dropped back with a deflating rear tyre. He overshot the pit entrance and was forced to continue on the failing tyre, stopped and changed it and then had the opposite rear tyre also go flat.

Thomasen flew through the final lap and took the chequered flag to the obvious delight of his pit crew. At the pits, Thomasen was quietly confident he would have enough time advantage to take the event victory. The race is on accumulated time over the two 250 km legs.

McKay’s flat tyres had dropped him behind Nevil Basalaj on the road and Basalaj was second car through the finish line on the Sunday. The time deficit between Basalaj and McKay meant the local would have to be happy with a well-deserved third place while McKay was safely second overall.

Thomasen was the only driver to go under eight hours for the race distance of 500 km: he completed his winning run in 7 hours, 52 minutes. It is the first major endurance title won by UTVs in New Zealand offroad racing, though Thomasen served notice of the race-winning potential of the new class and the Polaris RZR when he won last year’s Gwavas 250.

A total of 30 drivers entered the 2014 Total Lubricants NZ Enduro Championship which was presented in association with Greg Winn Contracting.

Click the following link to view the final results from the 2014 Total Lubricants New Zealand Enduro Champs:

Final Placings 2014 NZ Enduro Champs

North vs South in Offroad Endurance Champs in Nelson

Basalaj in action at Twizel 250

Basalaj in action at Twizel 250

North vs south is the grudge-match agenda this weekend as Aucklander Ernie Hogg brings The General – his Scorpion Chev two-seater V8 unlimited class racer – to Nelson to go up against the proven Jimco Chev V6 of local racer Nevil Basalaj.
At stake is the biggest prize in the 2014 calendar – the New Zealand Endurance Racing Championship title. The biggest endurance race in New Zealand offroad racing’s 2014 calendar is a matter of days away. It is a 500 km race run over two days – 250 km a day – on a fast and challenging forest course at Dovedale, southwest of the South Island city.

Ernie Hogg on dramatic debut at the 2013 ENZED Taupo 1000

Ernie Hogg on dramatic debut at the 2013 ENZED Taupo 1000

The pair met at the Twizel 250 earlier this year, but Hogg found his tyres short on grip as he tried to go wheel to wheel with the Basalaj Jimco.
Hogg’s Wilco Racing Team – one of the most professional in the sport – have completely rebuilt the Scorpion ready for the challenge and head south from Auckland mid-week.
Twizel 250 winner Basalaj meanwhile has been getting his car rebuilt in Christchurch after rolling it at a southern championship round.
In total, six of New Zealand’s fastest unlimited-class cars have entered the event with three North Island and three South Island teams ready to do battle.
Half-rally stage and half-extreme race event, the race is a stand-alone title in the sport. It runs every two years, alternating with the Taupo 1000, and is sponsored this year by Total Oil. Organisers of the Nelson event say recent storms have not affected the venue’s 42 km lap significantly though there have been fallen trees to clear.
Spokesperson Darrin Thomason says the course is equally suited to race cars and trucks and switches seamlessly between high speed logging highways and ‘skid’ roads through established pine forest.
“The race start will be two-side on a big fast arterial road built for the logging crews and the next five kilometres continues in that style, allowing drivers to get sorted before diving into the trickier tracks. We have created a lap that builds on the course we plotted last time and has something to challenge every driver,” said Thomasen.
Spectators will have a range of viewing areas around the start-finish and pits and can also see the cars where they power through a water splash to return to the start-finish area.
There is a new firebreak downhill that will test the nerve of drivers and navigators and the course has its share of muddy sections, fast roads and narrow tracks.
“These days getting access to a course in a production pine forest is almost impossible in many parts of New Zealand, and this one is a ripper. The top cars will hit 180 km/h or more in the fast stuff, everyone will be snagging second gear in the tight and twisty single-lane tracks, and we are looking forward to the battle for the outright title between the big unlimited-class cars and trucks and the smaller UTV class racers,” he said.
The defending champion, Daniel Powell, came away from the 2012 race raving about the challenge. This year Powell is sidelined building a new car, meaning there will be a new name on the enduro trophy on Sunday afternoon. The race has attracted a number of North Island entries and one international, Mike Hughes, in a Ford F150 desert race truck.

In wretched conditions, Polaris Pilot, Ben Thomason wins the Gwavas 200 Enduro and takes a historic victory for UTV racing in New Zealand

In wretched conditions, Polaris Pilot, Ben Thomason wins the Gwavas 200 Enduro and takes a historic victory for UTV racing in New Zealand

The most numerous class this year when ‘normal’ entries closed was UTV, with nine confirmed and several more likely to front for the race.
Racing in the 2014 Total Lubricants NZ Enduro Championship – presented in association with Greg Winn Contracting – starts at 11.00 am on Saturday and 10 am on Sunday.
-End-
Leading entries in the Total Lubricants NZ Enduro Champs 2014

Class one, unlimited race cars
100 Richard Crabb
171 Paul Smith
173 Nevil Basalaj
182 Blake McDonald
190 Ernie Hogg
192 Ash Kelly

Class two, production four wheel drive race trucks
205 Lucinda Maynard
250 Ron Crosby

Class three, race cars with engines up to 1632cc
375 Cam Stratford
353 Blair Prebble
371 Greg Winn
372 John Van Dyk
376 John Claridge

Class four, sports/improved race trucks
454 Paul Milne

Class six, challenge trucks
618 Don Morgan

Class eight, unlimited race trucks
800 Paul Preston
801 Mike Hughes
832 Carter Strang
864 Neville Taylor

Challenger VW class
C22 John Strickett
C52 Barry Phillips
C99 Paul Cooper

Class 10, motorcycle-engined offroad race cars
1069 Rosco Gaudin

Class U, UTV race vehicles
U01 Donald Preston
U08 Phil Smart
U15 Grant Dickson
U20 Ben Thomasen
U21 Mike Holmes
U22 Dave Henry
U55 Bob Uttridge
U66 Roger McKay
U69 Tony Radisich

DRIVER BULLETIN 13 July 2014 – from Clerk of the Course – Glenn Goosen

DRIVER BULLETIN DATED 13th July 2014
On behalf of ORANZ we would like to bring your attention to the official rule regarding race gloves.
RULE 6
t) All vehicles shall be checked prior to the start of any race or heat and when re-
entering a race after pitting or refuelling, to ensure all occupants must have their
harnesses, helmet, neck brace, flame retardant race gloves and eye protection
(visor/goggles) secured correctly, and these must remain in place for the duration of
the race.

Some examples of gloves that do not meet the flame retardant race gloves specifications are:
- Gardening gloves
- Motorcross gloves
- Mechanics gloves
This will be enforced at future ORANZ sanctioned race meetings including the Enduro champs in Nelson this weekend. Anyone not complying with this rule will be unable to race. No exceptions.

The biggest Endurance race of the year – The Total Oil NZ Enduro Champs

2012 Enduro Champion, Daniel Powell in action

2012 Enduro Champion, Daniel Powell in action

The biggest endurance race in New Zealand offroad racing’s 2014 calendar is a matter of days away. Over the weekend of July 19 and 20, Nelson will host the New Zealand Endurance Championship, for the second time. A 500 km race run over two days on a fast and challenging forest course at Dovedale, southwest of the South Island city.
The race runs every two years, alternating with the Taupo 1000, and is sponsored this year by Total Oil. Organisers of the Nelson event say recent storms have not affected the venue’s 35 km lap significantly though there have been fallen trees to clear.

2014 Enduro Champs track loop

2014 Enduro Champs track loop

Spokesperson Darrin Thomason says the course is equally suited to race cars and trucks and switches seamlessly between high speed logging highways and ‘skid’ roads through established pine forest.
“These days getting access to a course in a production pine forest is almost impossible in many parts of New Zealand, and this one is a ripper. The top cars will hit 180 km/h or more in the fast stuff, everyone will be snagging second gear in the tight and twisty single-lane tracks, and we are looking forward to the battle for the outright title between the big unlimited-class cars and trucks and the smaller UTV class racers,” he said.
The defending champion, Daniel Powell, came away from the 2012 race raving about the challenge.
The most numerous class this year when ‘normal’ entries closed was UTV, with nine confirmed and several more likely to front for the race.

New Zealand Enduro Champs – 19 & 20 July 2014 – Nelson

2014 Enduro Champs

Entries are already coming in for the 2014 Total Lubricants NZ Endurance Championship, to be held in Nelson July 18-19. The track will be a loop of approximately 44km with the start line being two-wide staggered on a main logging road.

Endurance Champs 4x4

The first five km is wide arterial roads then winding down Brandy Creek Road through a creek crossing then winding back up the top to more fast roads with sections going off and back on the road heading to Trass Valley then through another creek crossing (pictured) winding back up the valley heading into Crowds Road which consists of a lot of trees and clay sections and a few more water holes. This section has some tight windy pieces and clay. Club spokesperson Darrin Thomason says a working bee at the weekend has opened up a new firebreak downhill section (hold on) then at the bottom another creek crossing before the track winds up a narrow,tight section through gorse and scrub, then down a slippery mud piece onto gravel through another creek crossing and wind up a fast winding track to Pits.

Daniel Powell winning the 2012 Enduro Champs

Daniel Powell winning the 2012 Enduro Champs

Darrin says the event is going to top the 2012 Enduro champs – which winner Daniel Powell (pic taking chequered flag end of day two) said was the best enduro track he has ever raced.

Southern offroad racers turn up the heat

Class 1 racers, Neville Basalaj and Ashley Kelly battle at the tabletop jump at West Melton

Class 1 racers, Neville Basalaj and Ashley Kelly battle at the tabletop jump at West Melton – Photo by Ten Nineteen Photography

 

Spectacular crashes and an unprecedented five way tie in racing at West Melton have reshuffled the points table in the New Zealand offroad racing championship, with Nelson’s Nevil Basalaj crashing out of the event and Christchurch drivers sharing top points with other southern racers.

Bryan Chang dominating his class at West Melton

Bryan Chang dominating his class at West Melton

Basalaj tangled with Vince Harvey in the unlimited-class heats, barrel-rolling his American Jimco Chev race car.
The racing at West Melton near Christchurch on 1 June handed local drivers Steven Boyd and Wayne Moriarty 72 points along with Rob Palmer, Damian Halliday and Roger McKay. Owen Chang won the first heat for four wheel drives in the GT Radial Ford Falcon Pro Lite truck, while Gavin Storer rolled his four wheel drive version. Chang blew a transmission, his second of the year, handing a narrow unlimited-class class points lead to Storer.
The next southern round is at Nelson on August 30.

2014 ORANZ New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship Series – South Island –  Round 2 –  results and points – 2014 Mainland Challenge. Click this link:  Sth Island Rnd 2 Shortcourse

Images of Owen Chang winning the first truck class heat and of Nevil Basalaj and Ashley Kelly over the West Melton ‘tabletop’ jump by Ten Nineteen Photography.

King of the ‘Hill

The Winners of the 2014 Stihl Shop Woodhill 100 celebrate trackside. From right: rene Sciarone (2nd), Clim Lammers (1st), Ernie Hogg and co-pilot Mike Fraser (3rd).

The Winners of the 2014 Stihl Shop Woodhill 100 celebrate trackside. From right: rene Sciarone (2nd), Clim Lammers (1st), Ernie Hogg and co-pilot Mike Fraser (3rd).

Hikurangi racer Clim Lammers has won his second Woodhill 100 title in a dominant driver through 250 km of the roughest and fastest roads and tracks Woodhill Forest, hitting speeds of up to 200 km/h on his way to victory.

Lammers, one of the sport’s toughest drivers, is an enduro specialist, and also won last year’s gruelling two-day Taupo 1000.
He had to fight for the 2014 Stihl Shop Woodhill 100 win against the massive Nissan Titan V8 truck of Albany racer Raana Horan. Horan was aiming to add a third Woodhill title to his trophy cabinet, and had qualified on pole for the race against 71 other entries. A flamboyant and spectacular driver, Horan was crowd favourite to take the win.
The race entry was studded with former winners: Horan’s pole start lined him up alongside 2009 winner Alan Butler; 2003 winner Lammers had qualified ninth and would line up alongside multiple Woodhill 100 WINNer Tony McCall. Missing was west Auckland racer James Buchanan, who has won the race for the past two years but has a new American car being prepared for next season.
From the green flag it was Horan who dominated, powering away into the forest with only Alan Butler able to match the big Nissan’s speed. Before that start, Butler had set out his strategy: to let Horan lead, and stay in touch though not so close that his Millennium Evo turbo race car was pelted with rocks thrown up by the Horan truck.
For the first three laps of the nine-lap race the battle for the lead was between these two as Richard Crabb, Mal Langley, Lammers and McCall fought their way up through the pack. Horan and Butler eked out a gap of almost two minutes on the field, setting lap times in the 22-minute bracket for the punishing 27 km of logging roads and sand tracks.
Of the new championship class for ‘side by side’ or UTV four wheel drive cars only Tauranga’s Ben Thomasen ha d managed to qualify in the top ten, lining up on the second row at the start, but he was now fighting for position as the faster unlimited class cars forged their way to the front. Paeroa’s Mike Small and Dave Boniface were second and third in the class. As became evident in the 2013 race, the Achilles Heel of the UTVs is their limited range, with the little cars forced to pit for fuel regularly throughout the punishing enduro. These stops would push all the UTV entries down the race order as the day progressed.
Then on lap four, Raana Horan was out of the race. From the previous lap he and Butler had caught up to stragglers in the field and had been weaving their way through the slower traffic. Tryining to overtake a four wheel drive truck the big Nissan had tangled with the other vehicle, damaging the front end of Horan’s truck. Shortly after that Horan pulled off and out of the race with damage to his truck’s alternator.
Alan Butler then swept into the lead, chased hard by a throng of unlimited-class cars: Lammers was now second, McCall third but coming under intense pressure from Ernie Hogg in his Scorpion Chev two-seater.
Almost unnoticed by this high speed lead group, Woodhill regular Rene Sciarone had put in a gritty drive in his less powerful 1600-class car, coming through from 12th at the start to hold fifth. Many of the more powerful and more fancied entries were now behind the Toyota-powered single seater of Sciarone, who was putting in the drive of his career.
The experienced racer said afterward the key to the race is to know the character of the deep sand tracks, whether the car can ‘float’ over the worst of the holes and bumps or whether it will dig in; and to learn where to go fast and where to hold back and preserve the car.
As the race progressed through half distance there was heartbreak for Alan Butler, who disappeared from the lead with mechanical issues. This put Lammers into the lead with four laps to run. Tony McCall’s BSL Terra had fallen out of contention with a persistent misfire and then a flat rear tyre, which put him back in fifth overall under challenge from the first unlimited class race truck, the four wheel drive turbocharged V8 Toyota of Jono Climo.
Climo and Colin Sandford, both in unlimited-class Toyota Hilux trucks, and Wellington’s Justin Leonard in a Chev Colorado were battling for the class lead, Climo forcing through as high as fifth briefly and pushing McCall to sixth overall before almost running out of fuel on the last lap. The deep, cloying sand of Woodhill meant Climo’s turbocharged V8 engine had been using more fuel than expected.
“It spluttered on a long sandy uphill and the engine died and I thought we were done! But we rolled her back down the hill to the flat and got some fuel through then nursed her round to the finish,” he said afterward.
The delay had allowed Tony McCall back into fifth and Gregg Carrington-Hogg into sixth place.
At the front Lammers had made closing laps of the race look easy, short-shifting his car’s big Nissan V6 to save fuel and picking the best lines through the now deeply-rutted sand tracks. He took the chequered flag with a race time of three hours and 20 minutes for the 250 km distance.
Rene Sciarone was a clear and creditable second overall; Ernie Hogg third. Capping a memorable weekend for the Lammers family, son Clim Tristan Lammers came home fourth overall.
“This race is the one everyone wants to win and it’s always a huge challenge but the car never missed a beat. The sand tracks are probably harder on the driver than the car if you know what you are doing. But now I need to have a relax under a hot shower!”

2014 ORANZ New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship Series – North Island –  Round 2 –  results and points – 2014 Stihl Shop Woodhill 100. Click this link: Nth Island Rnd 2 Enduro Woodhill,

Click this link for Woodhill 100 initial results: Woodhill overall

Click this link for Woodhill 100 initial Class placings: woodhill class places