Thursday, November 29


Modified motocross bikes proved the cornerstone to the Burt Munro Challenge weekend in Southland.
THE weather was fine, the racing was great, the friendliness of the locals was impossible to fault and everyone who attended the Burt Munro Challenge November 21-25 Southland had a great time.

As early as the Wednesday (November 21) before the weekend, motorcycles were rumbling into Invercargill, with quite a good attendance at Ascot Park that night for the New Zealand Long Track Championship. (For more details, click here ).

A decent number made it to the Bluff Hillclimb on the Thursday (For more details, click here ) and despite cooler weather and one or two rain showers on Friday afternoon, the sand dunes at Oreti Beach were studded with spectators for the 50 mile Burt Munro Trophy beach race. (For more details, click here ).

These blokes rode from Auckland via dirt roads, tracks, and crossed 
Lake Wakitipu on the Earnslaw, rode around the Mavora Lakes and 
had a private run down Oreti Beach before the racing started...
A common thread through the Challenge was the strong entry of modified motocross machines in any event that they were eligible. At the Long Track event, this was called the ‘Non-Speedway Solo class’ and the action at the front was cut-and-thrust, with Winton’s Brent Scammell (Honda CRF450), Invercargill’s Greg Baynes (KTM 450SX-F), Oamaru’s Chris Manson (600cc Honda CR500) and Christchurch-based Southlander Jason Feaver (600cc Honda CR500) going hard at it.

When the grit had stopped flying, Manson ended up with the NZ Long Track title for this class, edging out Feaver, but in the GP battle Feaver ended up taking that title from the hard-riding Baynes.

Manson also took out the Motard class at the Bluff Hillclimb on the Thursday from Feaver, the two 600cc two-strokes a notch above the four-strokes, but Feaver won the 50 mile Burt Munro Trophy race at Oreti Beach and also took the Motard class at the Wyndham street races on the Sunday.

Several of the Motard riders decided against entering that class for the E Hayes and Sons Teretonga Sprint races on Saturday saying the straight was too long and took too much of a toll on their engines. However, Chris Sanson fronted, and won all three races.

The only event that did not have a class for the Motard machines was the Saturday night Speedway, and that was because there was no room on the crowded programme. While solo entries were reasonable, no less than 26 sidecars were entered, and although six of them failed to front on the night, the outfits certainly put on a heck of a show. Rather than a series of point scoring races, it was an elimination contest, with riders progressing through heats, semi-finals, and a couple of last chance qualifiers to set the field, and at the end of the night Fraser Gillespie and Nigel Cuckow took the honours.

Some of the speedway sidecar and solo contingent that
graced Oreti Park Speedway on Saturday night.
With the Rally site right next door to the Speedway, it was hardly surprising Oreti Park was packed for the sideways action. Just on 500 riders had pre-entered the Rally, with another 1000 showing up and signing in through the weekend. They were treated to generally fine and sunny weather, a huge marquee complex that provided live music, bar facilities and a dining area. This area was pumping not long after the speedway racing finished with a few hardy souls propping up the bars to the wee hours.

Southern men, apparently drink this stuff in some quantity...
Most of them managed to stumble out of their tents, grab some breakfast and ride the 40 kilometres to Wyndham for the final event, the Street Races.

Once again it was the Motards that provided the excitement with a barking pack of almost 30 machines making it a corner-to-corner battle for every place and as mentioned, it was Jason Feaver who ran out the overall winner.

After crashing in practice at Teretonga and ending third in class there, Ryan Hampton was fired up for the Wyndham Street Races and won three from three on his Bridgestone-shod Castrol Honda CBR1000R.

Ryan Hampton was unbeaten at Wyndham on the Castrol Honda CBR1000R.
While the Motards were generally all spectacular, in Superbikes Hampton shone with some stirring riding – including a wild slide and near high-side at the hillclimb, and some foot-out, back-it-in action around the streets of Wyndham.

While a large chunk of those who had turned up to spectate made it to most of the events, there was always a contingent relaxing at the caf├ęs near the corner of that famous southern landmark, Dee and Tay Streets, soaking up the ambience.

For full results for all events at the Burt Munro Challenge, click here