Brownlees and Powell back into the fray
The fastest unlimited-class racers come together this weekend at the 2017 Hydraulink Mainland Challenge, a two-day championship race event at West Melton.
Going wheel to wheel are the turbocharged class one cars of local drivers Daniel Powell (American-built Tatum Mazda), and Jacob Brownlees (Kiwi-built Bakersfield Mitsubishi Evo).
The pair traded race wins at the opening round of the southern championship during Easter at Nelson; now on their home track the pair will do battle to decide who takes the lead in the class and potentially the championship.
They go up against Otago driver Donald Preston, who is on the move from the unlimited-class trucks and a brief foray into the UTV ‘side by side’ racer classes and steps up into a new American-built Porter unlimited class race car.
Donald Preston’s son Paul will take over the wheel of Preston’s V8 four wheel drive Toyota Hilux, racing in 4WD Bits class 8.
Going up against Preston Jr and heading into the weekend with a points advantage is another Christchurch driver, Bryan Chang. Running a low-output engine he describes as the ‘mystery pack’, Chang won the 4WD Bits unlimited truck class at Nelson and arrives at the Mainland Challenge aiming to maintain his lead.
Anita Fleming was second in the class at the opening round and is back for a run at the challenging West Melton course.
In the other 4WD Bits truck classes Ron Crosby is set to take maximum production class points as sole entry and the winner of class four for modified trucks at round one,. Otago’s Wayne Wilson, goes up against championship regular Dave Ballantyne.
HasTrak class three for cars with engines up to 1650cc is all-new for this round – Nigel Sutherland, Wayne Moriarty and Phil Howlett are all making their 2017 championship debut.
Classes five and seven have one entry apiece: Clint Densem and Daniel Rusbatch.
HasTrak Challenger class has attracted a strong grid of six entries including no less than three females – Jorja and Brooke Storer and Caitlin Fleming.
The sport’s ‘new wave’ of turn-key ‘side by side’ UTV racers have again attracted strong entries, with the modified cars of JG Civil S class the most numerous. There are seven entries in the class making it the biggest field in the event.
Rosco Gaudin and Roger McKay will once more do battle in the standard U class.
The youth classes once more see entries from Gray Crosby (K class) and Jacob Brownlees’ son Jack (J class).
The event is the second southern round of the 2017 Polaris New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship. Short course racing starts at 10.30 am on Saturday and the 175 km endurance race gets under way at 10.00 am on Sunday. Gate admission is $10 per person (Saturday only); children under 15 are free.