READY TO GO: Whakatane’s Shayne Towers was leading at the halfway stage of the competition before retiring due to engine failure. Photos Troy Baker D9160-101

THE 4×4 nationals are worth viewing when they come to Whakatane.

Last weekend the 4×4 national trial series was held on Downard Road between Taneatua and White Pine Bush.

Event organiser Shayne Towers, who was also one of the competitors, said it was a fantastic event.

“This was round one of the six-round series that makes up the New Zealand 4WD national trial competition.’’

Drivers travelled from throughout the North Island to compete.

“With competitors coming from all over the North Island, 48 trucks took to the course on Downards Road where the organisers had marked out 31 hazards ranging from bottomless mud pits to monster hill climbs, slow technical sidlings and fast-flowing speeding sections.’’

The event has been held in Whakatane numerous times before.

Towers said it was a good day overall with some strong competition.

He was leading at the halfway stage in Class C, but severe engine failure meant Towers was forced from the race.

“When my motor problems happened, I was absolutely gutted.’

“It’s not very often a four-cylinder can give the V8s a good run for their money like we had, and to clear all the hazards is rare.

“My crew and fellow club members were saying go get it. You got this, you change your driving style to minimise risk when you are in that position.

“It’s a hard pill to swallow when it’s something out of your control like an engine drama.”

Towers said all six of the Eastern Bay drivers performed well.

Gary West was the best performing of the Eastern Bay Twin Diff Club members finishing 11th in the D Class and 12th overall, while club president Silven Schicker placed 22nd.

Rhys O’Brien finished third in C Class, while Paul Taylor and Clarrie Vazey won their respective classes.

The course was challenging for the drivers with plenty of mud and dust.

Taihape is the next venue for round two, scheduled for February.

Aucklander Scott Biggs, known as the best driver in the 4×4 divisions in New Zealand, was first on the day.