Challenge to host Kiwi world speedway legends

DIRT CHAMPIONS: Ronnie Moore, left, Ivan Mauger and Barry Briggs may all be at the Oreti Park Speedway on Saturday night. The speedway is hosting an event as part of the Burt Munro Challenge. The trio are pictured here before a 1974 test match against Poland.
DIRT CHAMPIONS: Ronnie Moore, left, Ivan Mauger and Barry Briggs may all be at the Oreti Park Speedway on Saturday night. The speedway is hosting an event as part of the Burt Munro Challenge. The trio are pictured here before a 1974 test match against Poland.

The men who put New Zealand on the world speedway stage will be in Invercargill as part of the Burt Munro Challenge.

Ivan Mauger and Barry Briggs are confirmed and it is possible that Ronnie Moore will also make an appearance.

Between them they have won 12 individual world speedway championships, Ivan Mauger six, Barry Briggs four and Ronnie Moore two.

They have won three world pairs titles and world team's title and Mauger also won three individual world long track titles. All have won numerous championships for country and clubs along with all being inducted in New Zealand's sports hall of fame.

All have been awarded MBEs with Mauger also awarded an OBE.

Russell Cunningham Properties Oreti Park Speedway will host these legends of the sport on Saturday night in what should be an action-packed race meeting. With over 50 races, no-one should leave disappointed if past meetings have been anything to go by.

Entries are on a par with last year proving this meeting is held in high regard with competitors all over the country.

All the grades will be hotly contested and picking a winner from any of the grades will be tough.

Favourites for the solos must be current New Zealand No1 Grant Tregoning and NZ under-21 champ Dale Finch. Both rode at Oreti Park two weeks ago with Finch taking the honours after Tregoning was forced out through injury. This should be a great battle, but one mistake could open the door for any of a number of riders. Others who could cause upsets are local boys Paul Hayes, Alex Cunningham and John Tuffley and young gun Jack McRae, who showed plenty of pace at his last meeting. The main threats from further afield would be Daniel McKinlay and Anthony Knowles.

The sidecar boys will be rubbing a bit more than just elbows as they push their machines to the limit.

Former NZ No1 Mike Zarhan will take over the controls of Invercargill's Kevin McDonald's bike, with Karl Hosie on the side. If this crew gels they will prove hard to beat but the chasing pack will be led by local sidecar ace Fraser Gillespie and Nigel Cukow.

But, like the solos, any number of combinations could take out the title. One bad start or one bad corner is all it takes to change a race and there are plenty of crews waiting to pounce on an opportunity to upset a favourite.

Solo Classics are proving more and more popular with good numbers entered again. Pete Stenning, Invercargill, will be hard to beat but nothing will be handed to him on a plate with locals Kelvin Neutze, Derek McRae and Les Payne, along with Burt Munro Challenge legend, Kevin Ryan, from the West Coast, trying to take the spoils.

Also from that era, Sidecar Classics make their first appearance at the Burt Munro Challenge as a demonstration class. Proving very popular last year at a club meeting it was decided that the cobwebs should be brushed off these machines again.

Kevin McDonald and Karl Hosie (Yamaha 650) should not be far from the front of the field as this bike can still mix it with modern bikes.

A crowd favourite is the Westlake team of Graham (Meatball) Hewitson with Mark Barnes on the side. The sound of this machine is music to the ears of any speedway fan. Another machine with an unforgettable sound is the Suzuki 750 Waterbucket of Brian Scullys but ridden by Mark Hosie.

These machines may be getting old and some of the combinations may be a little rusty but once the tapes go up it will be all on for young and not so young.

The 250 junior solos will be another hard-raced affair with these boys pushing hard and not giving an inch. Hayden Sims returns from a training academy in Australia and, along with Jake Gillespie and Adam Shuttleworth of Invercargill, will try to keep the title from Christchurch rider, Brannon Coppard.

These bikes are identical to the senior guys, the only difference being engine size and are proving popular as stepping stone for these youngsters before they hit the senior ranks.

Gillespie and Shuttleworth will also do battle in the junior 200cc class along with Zane Pay and Kahurangi Tanirau and along with the Peewee class provide some very close racing. Sam Taylor and Ethan Tuffley have shown early form this season but Hayden Brookland and Aubrey Page cannot be taken lightly.

Also lining up to the tapes will be the solo support class which should provide plenty of close racing.

Local riders Noel Caulfield and Daniel Shuttleworth will have a tough night keeping the visiting riders in their dust.

Racing at the speedway starts at 5pm sharp and, with a huge crowd expected, it would be advisable for the public to arrive early.

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The Southland Times