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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Burt Munro Challenge Reinforces Reputation As Premier NZ Rally Event

The growing national and international appeal of the Burt Munro Challenge in Invercargill New Zealand 
554568was reinforced at the weekend as thousands of racers, riders and spectators soaked up a fantastic festival atmosphere.

Six racing events - including three with NZ titles were up for grabs from November 28 - December 1 – while away from the track thousands camped and partied at the Oreti Park rally site as the south once again embraced New Zealand’s premier motorcycling rally event.

About 2000 motorcyclists attended the Challenge Rally this year while there were 530 entries for racing events, up more than 10 per cent on 2012. About 50 attendees, including 10 competitors, were from Australia this year.

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The challenge started on Thursday with Christchurch’s Ryan Hampton again blitzing the field in the NZ Hill Climb Champs – racing up Bluff Hill near Invercargill in a tick over 40 seconds. That night, Mt Maunganui rider Cody Cooper completed a perfect day of racing to take out the New Zealand Supercross title near Winton.

Invercargill’s Greg Baynes took out the Burt Munro Trophy after an impressive victory in the NZ Beach racing Champs 50 mile race at Oreti Beach on Friday night.

Hampton took line honours in the track racing at Teretonga Park. At the speedway, national sidecar champions Paul Humphrey and Ben Franklin were unstoppable, while Dale Finch took out the solo title.

Christchurch rider Dan McKenzie was the king of the street in Wyndham on Sunday, with former champ Hampton opting not to take to the circuit as he was running low on tyres.

Among the Australian contingent in 2013 was the inspirational Alan Kempster. A double-amputee, Kempster lost his right-arm and right-leg after a tragic accident while he was riding his motorcycle but has battled back to the racetrack on his specially modified motorcycle.

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Kempster won the Munro Family Trophy, which is awarded as a mark of a competitors’ spirit.

Organisers estimated the challenge pumped millions into the Southland economy with accommodation full and businesses humming, as the centre of Invercargill is taken over by motorcyclists.

Kempster said there was nothing like the Burt Munro Challenge in Australia and he thought it was probably a unique event world-wide.

“It’s becoming a definite bucket-list event for riders. It is a challenge and I’m having a ball,” he said between races.

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Burt Munro’s son John said TIME magazine’s endorsement of the event as one of the world’s top five must-do festivals of 2013 had been a huge boost.

“For a town of (Invercargill’s) size to have 530 competitors and a lot of them international, it’s amazing,” he said.

Away from the track, rally visitors were taking in some of the many other attractions the south offers.

Christchurch’s Wallace Weiderman said the highlight was the Bill Richardson Truck Museum which he described as “world class”.

554556Bruce Reilly, also of Christchurch, was amazed by some of the historic charm of small towns he had ridden through on his way south via Queenstown, Te Anau and Western Southland.

“I just couldn’t believe those little shops, that main-street of Tuatapere is a knock-out.”

He said there were more people at this year’s event than the previous time he had been at “the Burt” and had enjoyed great company and a great band at the rally party.

For more information on the event check out: www.burtmunrochallenge.com
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