Bikers' meet hailed a success

The motorbikes rolled out of Invercargill yesterday, signalling the end of the seventh Burt Munro Challenge.

At Oreti Park, the marquees at tent city were also coming down.

Burt Munro Challenge organising committee chairman Wayne Affleck said it was strange to see Oreti Park empty after nearly 2000 fans, competitors and crew members had pitched their tents and vans at the venue during the past week.

"It's a bit like we are undoing all the work to set up the site," he said yesterday.

However, he was very happy with how the event had gone, he said.

"This year's challenge ran like clockwork with the weather on our side and the people of Southland and from further away really supported the event," he said.

"It makes all the hard work from volunteers from across Southland, sponsors and Venture Southland who did a great job behind the scenes, worthwhile," he said.

The economic value from the challenge would not be known until the bookkeeping had been done, Mr Affleck said.

But the coffers of the Southland Motorcycle Club and many businesses would have benefited, he said.

"The club would not have made a fortune but there would hopefully be some money to put towards the safety fence at the speedway and do work on the motocross track."

Mr Affleck said the event was dependent on economic times but competitor and crowd numbers were up on last year.

All events except the longtrack had drawn impressive competitor numbers and all events drew great crowds, he said.

"The fans were at the longtracks but we will need to work harder to get more riders for next year."

Colonial on Tay Motel owner John McFarland said he was very happy with the trade during the Burt Munro Challenge.

"We had units filled with bikers and also units filled with people down here for the event," he said.

The challenge was definitely an event he and all moteliers and businesses would like to continue to do well, Mr McFarland said.

"This time last year there were rumours of the challenge being dead. Hopefully there will be none of that this year," he said.

The Invercargill motorcycle industry also welcomed Burt Munro fans and competitors.

Kevin McDonald from Rogers Yamaha said his team had provided spare parts to riders and competitors during the week and hoped for more business after the event.

"Hopefully all the motorbike outlets will be visited by the local riders who may need repairs and parts," he said.

The Burt Munro Challenge was a welcome time, especially with the motorbike business slowing down in the last year, Mr McDonald said.

Southland road policing manager Senior Sergeant John Pine said the motorbike fans had been well behaved during the week of the challenge.

Just one driver from more than 5000 stopped at checkpoints in and around Invercargill was found above the legal alcohol limit in an operation targeting drink-driving.

Acting Senior Sergeant Dave Kennelly said the high-profile four-day operation had sought to get the drink-drive message across in conjunction with the Burt Munro weekend.

It was a pleasing result, he said.

The Southland Times