The road to the 2016 title begins here: Pukekohe racer Carl Ruiterman is ready to defend his 2015 northern title against all comers when the championship starts on Easter Saturday at Mangawhai.
The drift racer turned offroad champion is switching from Polaris to Yamaha, taking up the challenge of developing the new YXZ into a racer tuned to local conditions. He became North Island champion on the back of a stellar season in his Polaris, and says to challenge his grip on the trophy racers will need to be making the most of every point available to them from the first round onwards.
“If you’re not there you are not in the hunt. We’ve got our new YXZ, it’s been stripped to add the race gear we need to comply with ORANZ regulations and we are looking forward to Mangawhai.”
With the full seven-round championship going to a final round at Twizel in the South Island, Ruiterman is expecting stiff competition for the northern title. Entries in Easter’s opening round are already edging past 40, and drivers need to make the most of every northern round to be in with a chance at North Island titles.
Carl Ruiterman is the first drift racer to switch to the sport of offroad racing. A former motocross rider, he has also turned his hand to drag racing in the past. In 2007, he completed a grand slam of drift championship wins, taking out the D1NZ, NZ Drift Series and Drift revolution titles.
Racing at the one-day ENZED short course is on a farm course on Hilltop Road outside the seaside village which is expected to suit the UTV race classes. Short course events are stadium-style heat-based events that bring out fierce competition between drivers. The short track format is spectacular and exciting. Racing starts at 10.15 am on Saturday 26 March, with three five-lap heats per class and a 15-lap feature race with all cars on-track at once to finish out the day. North Island titles are won over the three northern championship rounds: Mangawhai, Woodhill and a final event at Palmerston North.
The national titles are then decided at an all-in final at Twizel at Labour Weekend featuring both short course (stadium-style) heats and a punishing endurance race. Only a few northern racers – those in the running for national titles or attracted by the unique terrain of the Twizel course – are expected to make the 20-hour, 1,360 km trip south to challenge for the outright New Zealand title.