It’s the biggest event on the New Zealand speedway calendar and the 2019 edition of the Burt Munro Challenge Speedway Spectacular is shaping up as one of the best yet.
Oreti Park Speedway president Alex Cunningham said the club was preparing to deliver an “epic” race meeting featuring a strong field of local, national and international competitors tomorrow (Saturday, February 9).
“Logistically it’s a massive challenge for our team of volunteers but it’s worth all the blood, sweat and tears when you see that crowd packed around the track absolutely loving the action unfolding right there in front of them,” he said.
“Our committee and volunteers really put their heart and soul into delivering the Burt each year and making it happen. It’s an awesome event which has become so iconic.”
Thousands of race fans converge on the Sandy Point venue each year, eager to witness riders living the club’s mantra of ‘fun at full throttle’.
After a season racing professionally in the UK, national solo champion Bradley Wilson-Dean, of Hastings, is venturing south and bringing Denmark’s Thomas Jorgensen along to experience the local speedway scene.
“We’re looking forward to it and hopefully we can put on a good show for the crowd,” Wilson-Dean said.
The experienced duo hosted a training session for the club’s junior riders and were impressed by the calibre on display.
Wilson-Dean said it bode well for the future of the sport in New Zealand.
“It changed my whole outlook on speedway back in New Zealand really. The standard of some of these kids honestly blew me away. I stood out there with a massive smile on my face all night watching some of these kids go around,” he said.
“We can only hope that all of these kids keep riding and when it’s time to move up to a senior solo they carry on with it. I’m just blown away by how quick they are – I’ve never seen juniors in New Zealand riding so well – even the wee pee-wees are on the gas.”
Cunningham appreciated their efforts to give back to the sport.
“It’s fantastic to see riders the calibre of Bradley and Thomas so willing to share their knowledge and inspire speedway’s next generation,” he said.
The impressive solo field also features former NZ U21 champion Jake Turner and Ryan Terry-Daly, who earned third at the NZ Championships, along with promising Christchurch young guns Ben Whalley and George Congreve.
In the hotly-contested sidecar ranks, the Oreti contingent shapes as the leading contenders with James Douglas and Harley Biddle, Aiden Thwaites and Shane Twiss, Bradley Sharp and Lance Jefcoate and Paul Humphrey and Ricky Pubben all capable of clinching the coveted title. Expect Christchurch’s Lionel Green and Shayne Breach and Auckland’s Glen and Chopper Bagshaw to feature amongst the challengers.
“We’re incredibly proud some of the country’s best hail from Oreti and home track advantage could prove the game-changer,” Cunningham said.
In the junior division, Hayden Brookland will be gunning for his sixth Burt Munro title, with club-mate Cormac Buchanan and Dakota Crengle amongst the 200cc challengers. In the 125cc class, Braxton Casey has been in solid form this season while Auckland’s Daniel Brett looms as a dark horse.
Racing kicks off at 3pm.