It’s called twilight, but it’s not the same Twilight that teen movie-goers get stupid about. The Denny’s Twilight 250 is not about vampires and werewolves, but organisers say this all-new offroad endurance race will still send adrenalin levels through the roof for drivers and spectators alike.
The race will be held this Saturday (Nov 20) and will cover 250 kilometres of high speed roads and logging tracks in the Woodhill Forest northwest of Auckland. Not only is the event longer than most such races in the sport, it is unique in being run through late afternoon and into the evening.
“This is the only chance offroad racers have to compete in dusk and darkness using high powered spotlights to see their way to the finish. It’s going to be quite a ride,” said organiser Alan Butler.
The event is being staged by the same team that organised the Denny’s Woodhill 100 in June.
“We have gone heavily into the big fast logging roads to create our 15 km race lap. Probably 80 per cent of the race distance will be on loose-surfaced but well-formed roads, the rest on logging tracks,” said Mr Butler.
As a result, racers at the front of the field are expected to hit speeds of 200 km/h or more in the faster sections.
The organisers have secured support from Denny’s New Zealand and Raana Horan’s Exhibition Hire Services.
Horan has the fastest truck in the sport, a supercharged V8 Nissan Titan four wheel drive utility which he drove into a class title at the recent national championship final. He is the only truck racer able to compete on a level footing with the lighter unlimited-class buggies, and Alan Butler says Horan is fully aware he is a target on the day.
Looking to topple the big black Nissan is Whakatane racer Mal Langley in his Exide Bakersfield Evo race car. Horan and Langley were both contenders for the national title, but both fell by the wayside with mechanical damage in the final laps of the last race in the national championship.
They are now preparing to sort out who is the faster driver over the 250 km race distance in Woodhill. The pair are also issuing a challenge to West Auckland’s Donn Attwood, who came through from fifth to win the championship outright: they want him to come and set the record straight.
Also likely to enter are father and son race team Clim Lammers and his son, Clim junior, both of Whangarei. Lammers senior is something of a Woodhill expert and has won there before, but never at night.
Otakiri’s Gary Baker is bringing his V8 Nissan Navara north for the race. He took top points in the ThunderTruck class at the first round of the national championship but then crashed heavily at the Woodhill 100 while chasing Horan.
For this event, Baker is handing over the driving duties to his ace mechanic, Jared McGillivray.
“2010 has been about giving something back for us, and about doing things differently. At the first round we were racing to raise funds for Camp Quality; at the second round we were looking to finally post a good result at a race that has been a real heartbreakers for us over the years. Then at the third round we turned over the driving to Tom Dixon from Australia, the first international entry in the national championship.”
Baker says the chance to give McGillivray a drive was too good to pass up.
Drivers will be allowed to take multiple navigators — so in many cases will use the event to give their sponsors or crew a chance to experience the sport first-hand.
The race will start at 6.00 pm, with grid positions decided by qualifying sprints followed by a familiarisation lap of the track.
Spectator access to the forest will be available from 5.00 pm. Gate admission is $5.00 per person or $10.00 per vehicle.