Just before we bring you the latest round of racing from the Waikato, the Castlecraig 250, we thought this official ORANZ report would make an awesome throwback Thursday. As a bonus it includes a number of spectacular photos from Mark Baker that probably remain unpublished till today.
LAWLOR TAKES HARD-WON SECOND OFF-ROAD RACING TITLE
Hamish Lawlor, driving the smallest race car in the championship – has won his second straight New Zealand offroad racing title.
Over two days of competition at Raglan, Lawlor first took a clean sweep on his class heats on Saturday, then won Sunday’s 170km endurance race to clinch his second title.
His car is based on the Australian Edge Barracuda, though much modified for the rigours of championship racing. It is powered by a high-revving Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle engine and weight around 550 kg, making it one of the lightest cars in the championship as well as the smallest. It carried him to the championship win last year, and to the first day lead at the punishing Taupo 1000 just a month ago.
Lawlor’s run to the title was not an easy one. The championship has evolved quickly in the past three years, with motorcycle-engined cars such as his coming to the fore and the Polaris ‘UTVs’ making their championship entrance; the ‘old guard’ in the sport run increasingly fast and powerful single-seater race cars in a battle against the fast racers – mostly men – in the new classes.
He was wheel to wheel with Neil Hook, a new entrant to the sport, through Saturday’s heats. Waikato driver Hook has built a car similar to Lawlor’s and was making his debut at the final round.
For much of Sunday’s race he was battling with the BSL Terra Chev of Tony McCall, and defending against the Polaris four wheel drives of Ben Thomasen (Tauranga) and Mike Small (Paeroa).
Thomasen had come to the finals with maximum points and like Lawlor had raced to a clean sweep of his class heats, but rolled his car in the last race on Saturday and then smashed its left front suspension late in the enduro. He had the consolation of having set fastest race lap of 6: 38.485 for the 8 km course.
Mike Small, also driving a Polaris, was jammed in between Tony McCall’s V8 engined BSL Terra Chev and Thomasen’s RZ-R for several laps, then overtook McCall to lead the enduro.
His time at the front ended when his car lost a rear wheel, possibly due to contact between his Polaris and McCall’s car.
McCall had shared the front row of the grid for the enduro and had been briefly overtaken by Eric Teers in a class 3 (1.6-litre) car before using the BSL car’s V8 power to push through and lead.
He was called in for a stop-go penalty responding to the tangle between his car and Small’s, then returned to the track determined to retake the lead. He had fallen to a distant fourth but fought back to tussle with Small for the lead over several laps.
A soft brake pedal that slowly became a lack of brakes put an end to McCall’s charge, and with Small out of the running McCall was forced to slow his pace to make sure of third place behind Lawlor and Winton driver Donald Preston in a supercharged V8 Toyota Hilux.
Christchurch racer Wayne Moriarty, another who came to the finals with maximum points, was having his own battle with a gastric bug that forced him to drop out of fourth place partway through the enduro to offload his breakfast. Running his new US-built Alumicraft in class 3, Moriarty gamely resumed the race and finished, and was rewarded with third outright in the national championship for his efforts.
A keen rival in class 3, Devlin Hill, rolled his Honda-powered single-seater early in the race on a tricky downhill off-camber corner. He landed completely upside down but was righted by a marshal and continued.
Richard Crabb of Albany rolled his unlimited class Chenowth V6 at the same corner but landed on one side and was also able to continue after the same marshal helped pull the car back on its wheels.
Donald Preston had an untroubled run through his Saturday heats in the unlimited truck classes and then put in a determined drive in the enduro to win the unlimited trucks class for the event and for the championship.
Also in the unlimited truck class, Martin van der Wal pitted before the end of the enduro with a broken steering mount, but was second in class eight; son William right behind him in third place for the class. Nick Leahy rolled the ELF Toyota Chev Pro-lite truck, then fought back but was stopped when the transmission oil cooler line failed and sprayed hot oil on the truck’s exhaust, causing a brief but spectacular fire.
2013 New Zealand Offroad Racing Championships
The Top Twenty (class winners in bold)
- Hamish Lawlor (C10 winner)
- Tony McCall (C1 winner)
- Wayne Moriarty (C3 winner)
- Wayne Rowe (Challenger VW winner, pictured))
- Donald Preston (C8 winner)
- Roger McKay (C6 winner)
- Ben Thomasen (U class winner)
- Greg Carrington-Hogg (C5 winner)
- Nigel Newlands (C2 winner)
- Paul Smith
- Taine Carrington (C7 winner)
- Maurice Bain (C9 winner)
- Dyson Delahunty
- Rex Croskery (C4 winner)
- Martin van der Wal
- Steven Boyd
- Peter Hogg
- Jamian Hill
- Craig Mulholland
- Vinnie Harvey
Photographs by Veritas Communications Limited and supplied free for editorial use. For more check out the Gallery below.