Karl Fenton leaps to victory in heat one at Makarau Karl Fenton leaps to victory in heat one at Makarau CREDIT: Veritas Communications Limited


Monday 22 April 2019, 7:30PM
By Mark Baker


  • Lucky seven score maximum points at Makarau
  • Fast day on the dirt marred by crashes


The opening round of the 2019 New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship started with a bang for racer Karl Fenton, who won the opening heat for unlimited class race cars in spectacular fashion driving his immaculate Concrete Motorsports Jimco Chevrolet two-seater.

Grabbing the lead at the green light, Fenton simply drove away from his closest rivals, none of whom could stay the distance except Tony McCall (Manukau), who had drawn a back-of-the-grid start and carved through the field in five laps to be second behind Fenton.

Unfortunately for Fenton the ‘bang’ in the next race was not as satisfying – at the race start his big American race car rode over the wheel of a smaller rival as he carved through to the lead. His Jimco was flicked into the air, completing a punishing barrel roll before coming to rest at the side of the track. He was unhurt, but the big car took no further part in the day’s racing..

The biggest grids of the weekend were in the 12-strong unlimited race car class which included drivers from as far away as Nelson (Dan Fisher) and Otago (Don Preston). With so many cars contesting the heats incidents were inevitable. In the opening heat Tony Attwood hit barrier tyres at the exit of turn one in the opening heat, and then rolled his car in the same place in a later heat. Colin Meredith rolled his Southern Cross in a later heat. But it was multiple champion Tony McCall who took over from Fenton and won the remaining heats, also setting fastest time for the class, a 53.553 lap of the 1.28 km course.
The short course race meeting, held in breezy and fine conditions at the All Terrain Racing club's track at Makarau, had its share of upsets across the classes as racers grappled with a high grip clay surface that shortened braking distances and gave enhanced grip out of corners but was made unpredictable by frequent wet-downs to manage dust.

Seven drivers took a maximum 72 points with clean-sweep wins of their race heats. They are Ben Howard (class 5), Boston Morgan-Horan (Auckland, class 7), Gerard Chitty (Waiuku, 4WD Bits class four), Warren Adams (North Shore, 4WD Bits class six), Tim Ackers (Auckland, Challenger VW), Neil Hook (Auckland, class 10) and Matthew Bishop (West Auckland, Kiwitruck M class).
The crowd were also on their feet to watch an epic duel between Nick Hall and Mal Langley for the victory on unlimited race trucks. Hall won the first heat, was a DNF in the second when he picked up a flat tyre, and had to settle for second overall as Langley locked up the remainder of the heats.
The other 4WD Bits truck class winner was Damon Gilberd who won the production class despite multiple spins during the heats and then a huge crash that put him out of the event for the day.
In the JG Civil UTV category the crowd was treated to non-stop action with ten cars in the U class for standard UTVs and six in the S class for modified versions. Tauranga's Dyson Delahunty won U class in the championship debut of the new Polaris single-seater UTV, while front-runner Dion Edgecombe dropped out when he tore off a front wheel. The S class title was even more closely fought with Joel Giddy and Carl Ruiterman taking equal first and championship regular Brian Rutgers finishing third. Defending champion Ruiterman topped Tony McCall’s time to produce the fastest lap of the day, a new championship lap record for Makarau of 53.304.

Former class and outright champion Ben Thomasen was off the pace, having only taken possession of his new race car the day before.

The Kiwitruck youth category class is hugely popular in the North Island, with nine racers fronting up in J class and another two in S class. Reeve Giddy won J class and Matthew Bishop took M class.



Race results are at:

First round points are at: