New Zealand’s top rally drivers will have a custom-built quad bike piloted by renowned rider Ian Ffitch nipping at their heels at November’s Battle of Jacks Ridge.
While World Rally Championship star Hayden Paddon, event host Jack Hawkeswood and reigning New Zealand Rally champion Ben Hunt loom as obvious contenders at the November 15 event in Auckland, Ffitch could well be a dark horse on his hill climb special.
“It is called the BRM1000 that was created way back in 2003 for Race to the Sky,” Ffitch explained. “It is powered by V6R1000 road bike engine.
“Ninety percent of it is custom-built around that engine. It started off as an original 500CC two-stroke frame that we grafted the engine into.
“It is something that was specifically built for Race to the Sky and I have been fortunate to do a few other hill climbs in it over the years like Ashley Forest, the Leadfoot Festival and Hayden Paddon’s Ben Nevis Station event earlier in the year.”
Like most competitors the purpose-built Jacks Ridge stage will be something of a mystery to begin with. The stage has been constructed on 2017 NZRC champion Andrew Hawkeswood’s farm in Whitford, 20 minutes from downtown Auckland.
It contains 6km of gravel special stage designed to host the WRC Rally of New Zealand before COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the event.
The Battle of Jacks Ridge will use 3km of that stage and will feature some technical corners, some high-commitment jumps and brilliant spectator viewing – not that Ffitch knows anything about it.
“I know nothing. I know zero. I don’t know anything about it,” he admitted.
“It is exciting. I have dealt with Andrew as far as competing against him at hill climbs and Race to the Sky and Leadfoot and stuff. When I heard it was Andrew putting it together I figured he would know what would be good and spectacular so I am excited by the thought of it.”
Ffitch impressed with a top 10 finish at Paddon’s Ben Nevis Golden 1200 near Cromwell earlier in the year but he hasn’t been able to ride the bike again since.
“It just isn’t suited to any other form of racing,” he said. “Any time I can get it out is great
“I would be stoked if I made the top four and I would be gutted if I didn’t make the top eight. Not knowing the competition and how many specialist vehicles are in it I would be disappointed if I couldn’t make the top eight.
“If you make that top eight – everything from there is the next step.
“It depends how fast the stage is too of course but the competitor in me means I wouldn’t be happy with anything less than a top eight finish.”
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