Christchurch racer takes first championship at Full Throttle
Christchurch racer Daniel Powell, a newcomer to the sport’s top unlimited class, has won the 2008 Asset Finance New Zealand Offroad Racing National Championship.
At the final round, raced over two days of Labour Weekend at Manukau, Powell held on through a wet and miserable day of short course racing to stay in contention for the title, and then went out from pole position for Sunday’s 163 km endurance race to take second overall and second in class behind Beachlands racer Neville Smith.
The event was part of Manukau’s Full Throttle motorsport weekend, which also includes auto shows and the official start of the 2008 Targa road rally.
The combined results at the Iveco/Elf final round were enough to hand Powell the title. His car, an American Jimco single-seater powered by a 3.5-litre twin-turbo Nissan V6, was engineered by 2007 national champion Andrew Thomason. It is the second time a Jimco has won the national championship, and there are now three Jimco cars active in the sport in New Zealand.
Third across the line in Sunday’s enduro, and second overall in the championship after a tenacious drive, was Nelson’s Dennis Andreassend.
He fought his way through in-class heats on the Saturday against 13 other top Super 1600 cars despite having received two rear of the grid starts in the random draw for start order.
Andreassend also survived a last-lap fuel scare in the Sunday endurance race, diving into the pits for a “splash and dash” top-up when his engine starved of fuel approaching the start-finish line.
After seven championship rounds and fifteen races, just six points separated first and second place, with Rookie of the Year Nick Hall of Papakura finishing third overall and 22 points behind Powell.
The final day of the championship was not without its dramas. Raana Horan, who won the popular Camco ThunderTruck class, hit Lyndsay Dowler’s Toyota Hilux, smashing his rear wheel rim and puncturing the tyre. Endurance race winner Neville “Max” Smith was hit midships by Daniel Powell but managed to continue and regain the enduro lead.
Top championship contender Ryan Densem crashed heavily when a slower competitor drove in front of him entering the start-finish area, the car slewing into a concrete safety barrier at high speed and smashing its transmission and rear wheel.
Hamilton’s Maurice Bain, also in the running for the title, had crashed out of Saturday’s heats when he smashed his Nissan Navara’s front suspension in a heavy landing on one of the course’s jumps while trying to catch eventual production truck class champion Nigel Newlands, also of Hamilton. Unable to repair his truck, he took no further part in the championship battle.
The North Island managed to retain class titles in the VW-based Challenger class, Super 1300 class and the ThunderTrucks; all other titles went to South Island competitors and the 2009 national final will be contested in Christchurch.