Beachlands offroad racer Neville Smith heads south to Palmerston North this weekend with a single aim: to wrest back the national championship lead.
Smith, driving a turbocharged Cougar single-seater race car in the unlimited class, led the championship after the first round held at Meremere in March. He overcame slimy track surfaces and massive puddles of standing water to hold the lead with 70 points.
Last weekend, though, the South Island grabbed the lead thanks to class – dominating performances from long-time racer Dennis Andreassend in his BF Goodrich-shod unlimited class race car and from Simon Smith in his four wheel drive Nissan Terrano V6.
Racing at Nelson, both drivers dominated their in-class heats in conditions worse than at Meremere, with cold rain turning the track surface to greasy mud that churned into deep ruts as the day went on. They came away with 72 points apiece and share the title points lead.
Now, racers at the third round will contest both short course and endurance races at Palmerston North’s track on farm land at Wall Road near Foxton.
Racing gets under way at the track at 10.30 on Saturday and Sunday, with teams hoping for fine conditions.
Saturday will feature spectacular short-course racing action as the drivers compete in heats to gain valuable points toward the title. There will be three five lap heats for each class, followed by a 15 lap all-in heat that pouts every race car out on the track at the same time.
The next day at the same race venue, teams face a 150 kilometre endurance race. Access to the race track is from State Highway 1 or Himatangi Block Road.
Palmerston North residents can get an early look at the specialised four wheel drive race trucks and rear wheel drive race cars when the teams are scrutineered at the Square off Rangitiki Street on Friday between 2.00 pm and 5.00 pm.
The race weekend is sponsored by Hauraki FM and supported by Motex Motors and Himatangi Beach Motor Camp.
More information about the event is available from Palmerston North Offroad Race Club’s Trevor Neil on 0275 877 300.
The 2011 Mickey Thompson New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship will feature three North Island and three South Island regional rounds before all leading teams come together at Nelson in early October for the national final, where the in-class and overall champions will be decided over two days of racing.
2011 Mickey Thompson Offroad Racing Championship
Top points after round two
1= Dennis Andreassend, Christchurch
Simon Smith, Christchurch, both 72 points
3 Neville Smith, Beachlands, 70 points
4 Hamish Lawlor, Tapanui, 69 points
5 Chris Devereaux, 67 points
6= Nick Leahy, Counties
Donald Preston, Winton
Ashley Kelly, Nelson
Wayne Moriarty, Christchurch; all 64 points
10 Colin Meredith, Waikato, 62 points
Issued by Veritas Communications Limited for the Off Road Association of New Zealand