Story by Mark Baker
- New trucks, new race cars to challenge the champions
- Massive field for 33rd Woodhill 100
- Million dollar racer title chase
Fast five: race watchers are saying the first five rows of the grid for this weekend’s Stihl Woodhill 100 will probably include the eventual winner as the most competitive field in many years heads for the forest.
That first fast five rows will also have a net worth of somewhere in excess of one million dollars.
With Lotto millionnaire Trevor Cooper expected to front with his new US-built Jimco desert car, two-times winner Raana Horan of Paremoremo returning to shoot for a ‘three-peat’ in his V8 Nissan Titan, five-times winner Tony McCall (Manukau) looking for title number six in his BSL Terra Chev, west Auckland’s Jono Climo making his debut in an all-new Toyota Hilux with V8 turbo power and Gregg Carrington Hogg bringing out his Blue Thunder Chev-powered two-seater race car for its debut, there are no shortage of top-dollar race cars lining up for the 33rd running of this legendary offroad race.
In all, there are likely to be six former and current Woodhill champions contesting the race this year – most of them in cars with V8 power.
These leading competitors may well have a message for those in the smaller-engined classes who hope for an upset win: if you don’t have a V8 engine in a high spec truck or race car you are going to have a hard time making the pace.
But hovering behind the thundering V8s are the likes of James Buchanan, who won last year in his class 3 Cougar Evo Suzuki, Troy Tuffnell in a class three Cougar with Toyota power, and John van Dyk, the sole South Island racer, also in class three.
This year’s race is the longest yet, up from 246 km in 2012 to 252 km on a 28 km lap that mixes flat-out forest racing on logging roads with deeply-rutted sand tracks with massive holes that threaten to swallow the smaller race cars and four wheel drives.
It offers race fans a rare chance to see top-level race action in the vast pine forests of the northwest, up close and personal with the fastest offroad race drivers in New Zealand.
A West Harbour team entry gives the race a true family feel this year: in addition to Gregg Carrington-Hogg’s new unlimited class car, while in the next generation of the family double national class 7 champion Taine steps up to class five, and his youngest brother Trae will race in the Kiwitruck youth category.
The new ‘side-by-side’ UTV class will race at Woodhill, with current joint leader of the national championship Ben Thomasen of Tauranga heading up the entries of the small but deceptively fast motorcycle-engined race cars along with Mike Small of Manukau.
Now in its 33nd year, the Woodhill 100 is the oldest event in New Zealand offroad racing. It is the toughest one-day enduro in the sport in this country, and is the longest continually-running endurance race of any type in New Zealand motorsport.
Racing starts on Sunday 2 June with a separate event for the Kiwitruck youth category at 9.00 am on race morning using part of the main event race course, followed by the main race at 11.00 am. Organisers expect the race to be run and won by 3.00 pm.
Though it is a forest endurance race, spectators turn out in significant numbers to catch the action – more than 2500 race fans through the gate in 2012 – with plentiful vantage points close to the start-finish area and the leading racers topping 220km/h on the faster sections of the course.
The forest access for the race will be signposted for northern and southern traffic at the roundabout on SH16 near Parakai. Admission is $10/adult, children under 15 are free.
The Woodhill 100 winners: 32 years of the toughest race in New Zealand
1981 Daryll Carson
1982 Emil Versalko
1983 Daryll Carson
1984 Nigel Barton
1985 Ian Foster
1986 Emil Versalko
1987 Lindsay Pointon
1988 Des Warrington
1989 Ian Foster
1990 Ian Foster
1991 Ian Foster
1992 Ian Foster
1993 Trevor Hackett
1994 Emil Versalko
1995 Daynom Templeman
1996 Mike Cameron
1997 Daynom Templeman
1998 Ian Foster
1999 Tony McCall
2000 Grant Ferguson
2001 Trevor Hackett
2002 Lindsay Pointon
2003 Clim Lammers
2004 Tony McCall
2005 Tony McCall
2006 Tony McCall
2007 Tony McCall
2008 Clive Thornton
2009 Alan Butler
2010 Raana Horan
2011 Raana Horan
2012 James Buchanan