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Off-roaders battle in the Bay

 

July 11, 2007, 12.45pm. Top North Island off-road racing drivers will converge on the Bay of Plenty this weekend for the penultimate round of the 2007 Asset Finance New Zealand National Off-road Racing Championship.

It’s their last chance to draw level on points with their South Island rivals before the series final at Nelson in August.

Whakatane driver Clive Thornton is among the Class 1 entries for the one-day event.

Driving his V6-engined Australian Southern Cross two-seater, Thornton will be part of the strongest field of Class 1 race cars in the sport.

He has already notched up a win in non-championship racing in the new car, and says he’s looking forward to this weekend’s racing at his “home” event.

When he forms up on the start grid on Saturday, July 14, Thornton will meet a field of up to 10 of the fastest race cars in the sport headed by defending outright champion Tony McCall of Manukau in his SFL Cougar 07.

Also there will be Colin Meredith (driving Thornton's previous car, a Chenowth Cougar with turbo Toyota power); Rotorua's Mike Cox in a Jimco Baja race car with turbo Subaru power; Whangarei’s Melvin Rouse in a Nissan-powered car and Beachlands driver Neville (Max) Smith in the most advanced Cougar race car yet built.

McCall, chasing an outright and class title, must clean sweep his Class 1 short-course heats and win the enduro outright to take maximum points to the final at Nelson.

Saturday features qualifying sprints, a full morning programme of spectacular class-by-class short course heats and an endurance race of 165km, with quad racing thrown in during the lunch break to keep spectators entertained.

With the leading entries now exceeding 35, organisers are confident of a field of around 45 cars.

Qualifying sprints for the enduro are between 8am and 9.15am; and the first short course race starts at 10am.

The endurance race is at 1.20pm.

The race venue is signposted from Matata for spectators arriving from Tauranga and on roads leading into Matata for Whakatane residents and spectators coming from Rotorua.

Photo caption: defending champion Tony McCall.


 


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