Otago’s Donald Preston is making the long trek north with his V8 powered Porter unlimited class race car for this weekend’s opening round of the 2019 New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship.
He is part of an 11-strong entry in the top (unlimited) race car class, which includes multiple champion Tony McCall, Alan Hilliam in a Porsche-powered single-seater, Regan Swensson making the jump from the lower powered class five to debut in class one and
The President of the sport’s governing body, Martin van der Wal, says the unlimited class has put in the strongest turnout of the event, which bodes well for spectacular race action on the specially-built short course track.
A change to the championship rules has enabled all racers to contest as many rounds of the championship as they like, taking their best three results to arrive at their final regional points position. The move is expected to boost grids at most of the six regional rounds. Dan Fisher of Nelson is also making the trip north.
Makarau made its championship debut in 2018 when a cyclone damaged the course for the Woodhill 100. It is a purpose-built race track running alongside an airstrip on a farm north-west of Auckland near Kaukapakapa.
The JG Civil UTV classes will put fourteen cars on the grid at Makarau: nine U class standard cars and five S class modified cars are entered.
In JG Civil U class the big news is the debut of the new Polaris single seater RZR RS1 racer at the hands of Tauranga’s Dyson Delahunty. He goes up against class regulars including Dion Edgecombe (Matamata), Leigh Bishop, Roger McKay, Scott Munro and Scott Mitchell.
Defending national champion Carl Ruiterman returns to S class to go head to head with Polaris team racer Ben Thomasen, Joel Giddy (Silverdale), Trevor Cooper, Brian Rutgers and Grant Sleeman.
The 4WD Bits truck and 4WD category has attracted entries in the standard, modified and unlimited classes.
Damion Gilberd won here last year and is the leading class 2 (production) entry; Warren Adams has entered his V8 Nissan in 4WD Bits class 6. Nick Hall and Mal Langley are leading unlimited truck (class 8) entries.
Brendon Old of Taranaki is one of the leading class three racers and leads a four-strong entry. Class three caters for race cars with engines up to 1.6-litres.
The class five (cars with engines up to 1.3-litres) entry is also four-strong: Ben Howard, Taine Carrington, Nick Magness and Rodney Greenhorn.
Class seven for VW 1200 cars has one entry: Keegan Russell.
The VW Challenger class has two entries: Tim Ackers and Mark Goldstone.
Neil Hook is the sole entry in class ten for cars with motorcycle engines.
In the youth Kiwitruck class, there are five entries in the class (Junior) and one in the M (Modified) class. The Kiwitrucks will race on a modified version of the main track.
Racing at 532 Burnside Road, Makarau starts at 10.00 am on Saturday 20 April.
Mike Small/Phil Johnston