Star-studded entry for 37th Woodhill 100
Lotto millionaire Trevor Cooper (pictured)and 2016 champion Mike Fraser headline the entry for the 2017 Woodhill 100 this weekend.
Set in the sprawling pine forest north of Auckland, the race is the oldest offroad race in New Zealand and the toughest one day endurance race of its kind. It is the third round of the 2017 Polaris New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship in association with Hastrak.
Since winning $26 million in 2012, Cooper has raced in the USA – the birthplace of the sport. He has returned to contest the iconic endurance events – the New Zealand Endurance Championship at Nelson, the Taupo 1000 and now the Woodhill.
Publicity-shy Cooper has amassed a stable of offroad race cars and trucks and will bring to the Woodhill race the fast New Zealand-built Cougar Honda turbo in which he contested the New Zealand endurance championship in 2012, finishing seventh overall over two days and 500 km.
He will be one of up to ten unlimited-class race cars lining up on Sunday at 11.00 am for the race start, including last year’s winner Mike Fraser of Albany in his Toyota V8-powered Racer Engineering single seater. Fraser took his maiden win with a finely-judged sprint that outdistanced a number of more favoured teams and is looking to repeat his victory run this year.
Also in the unlimited class is Manukau’s Tony McCall, who has won the Woodhill six times and aims to equal the record of long-time arch rival Ian Foster.
The iconic offroad race is once more attracting entries from far and wide, with three Christchurch drivers making the long journey north to compete. Father and son team Jacob and Jack Brownlee (class one and youth category J class respectively) are joined by the sport’s southern vice president Mike Blackmore who runs a V6 powered Honda desert truck built in America.
The race will once more see the sport’s ‘new wave’ of UTV or side by side race vehicles go up against more traditional designs. The all-wheel-drive UTVs are smaller and more agile than the big race cars and trucks but have less suspension travel and are more prone to tyre failures. There are more than 20 UTVs entered – almost a third of the field – and the leading entries include Joel Giddy, Carl Ruiterman, Ben Thomasen (all in S class modified UTVs) and Dyson Delahunty (U class standard UTVs)
The organisers of the 2017 race – sponsored this year by North Harbour Vehicles and Grabtruck.co.nz – have plotted what they say is a classic Woodhill, with a blend of high speed logging roads and tight tracks that weave through under the pine forest canopy.
There are two days of action at Woodhill: on Saturday the race venue at Muriwai sees qualifying sprints from 9 am and a separate enduro for entrants in the youth category, Crabb Racing Kiwitrucks.
The following day the main race gets under way. Race cars will be gridding up on Sunday from 10.30 am for a race start at 11 am.