Spectacular offroad action coming to Woodhill Forest this weekend Spectacular offroad action coming to Woodhill Forest this weekend CREDIT: Mark Baker

Woodhill offroad enduro reborn for 2022

Tuesday 31 May 2022, 6:50AM
By Mark Baker

New Zealand’s oldest and fastest forest offroad endurance race returns in June with a new format that returns to its traditional 160 km (100 mile) race distance.

Woodhill 100 will be run over an 11 km lap at the Auckland 4X4 Adventure Park on a course plotted for speed and excitement.

There are now three championship-level forest endurance races in 2022: the Nelson-based Enduro Championship title, the Woodhill 100 in June and a further Woodhill event proposed as the final race of the championship in October. The Woodhill races are part of the offroad racing national championship.

At the June event, Manukau multiple Woodhill winner Tony McCall can step ahead of off-road legend Ian Foster’s tally of six Woodhill 100 victories. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, McCall and Foster went wheel to wheel in the sand tracks and rocky logging “highways” of Woodhill Forest. The pair are currently tied on the same number of wins.

McCall’s Chev LS-engined Buckley-built single-seater has been developed to its fastest and strongest specification ever. It now features a speedway-style rear wing that calms the vehicle at high speeds when all of its 16-18 inches of suspension travel is being used. This year he will face a strong entry list of the ‘new breed’, most of whom are racing imported or locally-built V8-engined machinery.

Auckland Offroad Racing Club president Donn Attwood will front up in his unlimited-class race car. He says this year’s event is plotted over a fast, varied and exciting course. During recent reconnaissance of the course it was driven in two-wheel-drive in road-going utes. Extensive preparation work will focus on enhancing overtaking zones and smoothing out rough sections of the hard-surfaced parts of the course.

“We have excellent spectating right at the start-finish area, where the cars can be seen twice per lap; and the field will complete more laps than ever due to the shorter 11km lap distance.”

The club is expecting at least 50 teams to enter the event.

Going up against Attwood, McCall and others, the first entry for this year’s event is also in an unlimited-class car: Palmerston North club member Paul Eayrs of Wellington.

The popular UTV (all terrain) classes are likely to turn out in force. Carl Ruiterman and Joel Giddy are among those expected to enter the event in their modified-class Yamaha UTVs. Both are front-runners but neither has yet won a Woodhill.

Shayne Huxtable is bringing his unlimited-class race truck north from Napier; Martin van der Wal (Palmerston North) is bringing his similar race truck.

Auckland’s Leigh Bishop will front up in his Chev-bodied truck, which has been heavily re-developed for speed in the rough and tumble of an endurance race. The Bishop family will also be represented by son Matthew, a multiple class winner in the Kiwitrucks and more recently in his fast Challenger VW.

In recent years, up to half of the event’s grid has been from the top truck class.

Donn Attwood says offroad racing is one of the few motorsport events still hosted in Woodhill Forest and is one of the last sports where spectators can get up close to the action.

“One thing is certain: with a shorter lap and multiple vantage points, spectators are going to see a lot of spectacular offroad racing action.”

The 2022 Hydrovac Woodhill 100 will run on Sunday June 5 (Queen’s Birthday weekend) its traditional date. Qualifying takes place on-site on Saturday June 4.

Access is from Rimmer’s Road near Helensville; spectator admission: adults $10 each, children under 12 FREE, carparking within the park $10. No dogs allowed. Cash only - No eftpos or mobile signal available. On-site caterers will have coffee and takeaway food available. Racing starts at 11am.