North-South Offroad Racing Champs clash comes to Nelson

| Photographer Credit: Mark Baker

Nelson is the battleground as the fastest southern racers line up for their first chance to grab points in the 2016 Polaris New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship.

They won’t have things all their own way, with a contingent of northern bandits heading south aiming to steal points and championship glory. Racing on a new farm-based short track course at Kinzett Creek Road, Tadmore, the southern racers will be looking to fend off an aggressive challenge from the northerners.

Leading the charge for the south are local racers Nevil Basalaj (Jimco Chev), Ash Kelly (Cougar VW Evo) and Cam Stratford; all three in the spectacular unlimited race car class.

Also racing in that class and making a debut of his new Maxda rotary-engined car is former national champion Daniel Powell of Christchurch. From the north, and making possibly the longest journey to race, is Clim-Tristan Lammers of Hikurangi, near Whangarei..

Bryan Chang, also Christchurch-based, brings his GT Radial Ford Falcon turbo out for the first competitive run of the season, and goes wheel to wheel with the biggest unlimited-class truck grid so far this season. Even with the withdrawal of Gavin Storer due to illness the ‘big banger’ grid is packed with trucks including Carl Gardiner’s big black Nissan, the Nissan Navara of Andrew Johnston, Mike Blackmore’s Honda, and the double northern threat of Martin Van Der Wal in his four wheel drive Hilux V8 and Grant ‘Rowdy’ Rosenburg in his bright green truck, now repowered with a big Chev V8.

The 2016 Nelson Ruff’n’Tuff gets under way at 11.00 am on Saturday. The new race venue will be signposted from the Kohatu/Tapawera turn-off, south of Wakefield. Spectator admission is $5 per person, $20 per car load with under fives free.

Leading entries in the 2016 Nelson Ruff’n’Tuff

Class one, unlimited race cars
118- Daniel Powell
128- Clim-Tristan Lammers (Hikurangi, Northland)
173-Nevil Basalaj
175- Josh Rutledge
185-Cam Stratford
192- Ash Kelly

4WD Bits class two for production utes and 4WDs
218- Steven John Boyd
250- Ron Crosby

Class three, race cars with engines up to 1650 cc

312- Wayne Moriarty
333- Brendan Old
354- Daniel Rusbatch
371- Greg Winn
375- Grant Adamson
379- Joel Green
399- Alex McIndoe

4WD Bits class four for modified race trucks
444- Darrin Thomason
454- Wayne Wilson
497- Dave Ballantyne

Class five, race cars with engines up to 1300 cc

572- Graham Fleming
577- Clint Densem

V Dub Shoppe class seven
722-Raymond Tavinor

Class eight, unlimited race trucks
829- Martin Vanderwal (Palmerston North)
838- Michael Blackmore
841- Carl Gardner
845-Andrew Johnston
847- Bryan Chang
898- Grant Rosenberg (Palmerston North)

V Dub Shoppe Challenger class
C22 John Strickett
C82-Rob Palmer
C93- Brad Harvey

Mark Baker has been working in automotive PR and communications for more than two decades. For much longer than that he has been a motorsport journalist, photographer and competitor, witness to most of the most exciting and significant motorsport trends and events of the mid-late 20th Century. His earliest memories of motorsport were trips to races at Ohakea in the early 1960s, and later of annual summer pilgrimages to watch Shellsport racers and Mini 7s at Bay Park and winter sorties into forests around Kawerau and Rotorua to see the likes of Russell Brookes, Ari Vatanen and Mike Marshall ply their trade in group 4 Escorts. Together with Murray Taylor and TV producer/director Dave Hedge he has been responsible for helping to build New Zealand’s unique Toyota Racing Series into a globally recognized event brand under category managers Barrie and Louise Thomlinson. Now working for a variety of automotive and mainstream commercial clients, Mark has a unique perspective on recent motor racing history and the future career paths of our best and brightest young racers.

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