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New Zealand enduro title up for grabs at Nelson
Two days of hard-out endurance racing, 500 kilometres of action for those who can stay the distance, a major ORANZ title up for grabs in a sudden-death weekend of competition.
The 2012 New Zealand Endurance Championship will be fought out in the Nelson region at two tracks. The first day is at Lake Rotoiti, Nelson Lakes, on July 21; the second in the Hancock forest block at Dovedale the following day.
Event organiser Darrin Thomason is issuing a special challenge to North Island racers.
"With such a long break between the Woodhill and the national final, we reckon the northern racers are going to get a bit stale - after all, racing's all about time in the chair, and you need competition to keep your skills sharp. So there's a challenge out for the title, and we think it's going to be a chance for the North Island to go head to head with the best of the South Islanders over two days. I can’t possibly say who I reckon will take this out but the northern guys will have to bring their best game to stay in the hunt."
With Aucklander Darryn Bell already racing the southern rounds of the national championship, and with many of the top teams well into their preparation for the national final, there's good incentive for the northern teams to make the trip to Nelson next month.
"We have two quite different tracks, and our format enables racers who may have hit problems on the Saturday to make repairs and come out again on the Sunday, so people will have a fantastic weekend of racing in some very special country," he says.
Thomason aims to have his own Nissan Navara racing at the event, looking forward to a chance to get some time behind the wheel after the first round of the national championship ended for him on the first lap.
The opening day's competition starts at Speargrass, Nelson Lakes, with qualifying sprints from 8.30 am.
"We're doing final safety checks at the venue as people front up for their sprints as well, so there will be plenty going on from 8.30 onward."
Thomason says racing in the first day's enduro will start at 11.00 am. The finish time will depend on the speed of the leaders "it's a wide open farm and grass-style track, so the top guys could hammer out 250 km pretty quickly," he says.
An overnight break gives racers a chance to fix any problems they may have struck on the first day before assembling at Dovedale for the second leg of the event. The grid for the second day will be based on the finish order from day one.
Likely entries for the event from the South Island include Daniel Powell, John van Dyk, Neville Taylor, and Bryan Chang. Meanwhile in the north the event is a short ferry ride from Justin Leonard, Alistair Manning and Glenn Turvey in Wellington along with the resurgent Palmerston North club. There are a dozen or more racers further up the island who are looking to enter, and the event may even attract an entry from an Auckland-based driver who is bringing not one but two race vehicles from the USA: a class one Jimco and a class eight Pro2 Ford truck.
Auckland racer Alan Butler has confirmed he will entere the event in his Millennium single-seater race car.
Thomason says the event dovetails well with this year's race calendar and gives teams a long enduro to test their vehicles and skills at during the 'off-year' when the iconic Taupo 1000 does not run.
"There is only one race in New Zealand tougher than this, and that event is not happening until 2013. This is the longest distance you can race in the sport apart from the Taupo 1000; both these races are two-day affairs. They offer huge value for money as race distances for the entry cost - the only trick is making sure you can race all the way to the chequered flag each day."
Weather in Nelson for the race weekend is expected to be fine but cold with a chance of snow.
"There's a decent chance we will get some white stuff at this race, so we recommend people bring warm clothes, and we know the novelty of a chance to race in the snow will appeal to the teams."