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Two days of rough, tough offroad race action CREDIT: Veritas Communications
Nick Hall CREDIT: Mark Baker/Veritas for ORANZ
Nick Leahy CREDIT: Mark Baker
Clive Thornton, Whakatane CREDIT: Veritas Communications
Buoyed by a massive turnout to the first round of the 2012 Mickey Thompson New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship, organisers of the Mangawhai round at Easter are seeing strong early interest in their event that indicates their round will attract a record entry across all classes.
The second round features both crowd-pleasing stadium-style short course racing and a full endurance race, offering North Island drivers the toughest weekend of racing in the championship until the national final in late October. Nick Leahy says there is much to draw teams north over the Easter break.
A Challenger VW racer who currently shares the championship lead, Leahy says he has designed a course that will please drivers and excite the crowds. Both short course and enduro tracks are plotted over rolling farmland off Molesworth Drive in Mangawhai, with fast sections, jumps and tight and tricky sections to test drivers and cars. It is the first time the national championship has ventured into Northland in more than a decade; the course is all-new and self-contained at one venue; and there are valuable points up for grabs. With bonus points available for racers at the third round, the second round points become valuable to drivers with an eye on a class or outright title.
"Drivers who are looking for something new and different, drivers who are chasing points in the championship or looking to make up for points missed at the first round - all will be looking north at Easter, and we've got a fantastic track sorted for them, a real driver's course," said Nick Leahy.
There is also the added attraction of the location and timing of the event: held at the start of the school holidays over a long weekend at a seaside township, the event offers families a pleasant break anchored around two days of exciting motor racing.
The last time the championship raced at the seaside was at the Whitianga Festival of Speed in 2010, where the combination of new venue and the prospect of TV coverage drew a record entry that included almost every top team in the North Island.
Visitors and Mangawhai locals get their first chance to see the race cars with scrutineering at the track on Good Friday between 3pm and 6pm. Racing starts the following day at 11.00 am and ends around 3pm; Sunday's enduro starts with time trials at 9.30 and racing at 11.00 am.
Nick Leahy has organised camping areas at the track for race teams, and the prizegiving venue is just 1 km away from the track.
"We've put a lot of thought into making this a real social weekend in the old style: fierce racing, good fun, lots to see and do - and all at one venue - so camping's definitely going to be popular."
Information about the event will be posted on the ORANZ Facebook page (search 'Offroad Racing in New Zealand') and at www.oranz.co.nz