Double win signals true comeback

FULL SPEED: Christina Orr-West shook the monkey off her back to claim a double win at the SsangYong Champs. Photo Geoff Ridder

A DOUBLE win at the final round of the SsangYong Racing Series last weekend was a “special one” for Edgecumbe driver Christina Orr-West.

Only two points separated first and second place going into the fifth and final round of the SsangYong Racing Series last weekend and Orr-West knew there was no margin for error.

It was a case of making sure for Orr-West, who teamed up with co-driver Rowan Shepherd in the 90-minute endurance race to reduce the risk. Orr-West also won the SsangYong ute championships, which in crossing the line bought out a series of emotions.

Having a team-mate in the final event was as much about “breaking the ju-ju on my back” as anything else, Orr-West said.

CHAMPION: Edgecumbe driver Christina Orr-West celebrates winning the SsangYong Championship last weekend at Pukekohe. Photo supplied.

“Rowan had been racing a ute as long as I have and we’d both always been bridesmaids in these championship series – and as it turns out we made the right decision.”

Having begun her racing career as a five-year-old, Orr-West is now celebrating with her own children aged five and six, and says it makes the championship win all the sweeter – although it has been a hard road to come back on.

Last year, a late mechanical failure ended her chances of a podium finish in the New Zealand Endurance Championships when she was all but assured of a top-three finish.

In 2017, Orr-West finished third in the SsangYong Actyon Ute Racing series, a result she also claimed in 2015.

This season had its challenges too with Orr-West having to drop a round in the championship after a second round shunt “made a bit of a mess of the ute which then put a lot of pressure on to make sure nothing else went wrong”.

Orr-West said given how many times something went wrong in the last round, she might have been spotted “praying to the racing gods” beforehand and was just so pleased that the monkey was now off her back.

“It’s great to finally get this championship win – not only for myself but for my crew team of Mum, Dad, and Richard McChesney, Dayle ITM, Haddocks and Mobile Signs and Graphics.”

The five-race series were held at Hampton Downs in Waikato, Pukekohe Park in Auckland, Bruce McLaren Park in Taupo and the Manfield Circuit in Fielding which is Orr-West’s favourite venue.

Having now “tied down a championship” Orr-West said it was also good to be able to show the kids that “mummy can be a champion”.

Orr-West is in talks with her sponsors and crew about where to next – which is sure to involve being back at the race track, where she has over the course of her career raced almost 300 times with more than 55 podium finishes.