Western trekkers search for Modified Bike honours

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Two West Australian drag racers are heading east to take their first steps towards a possible 400 Thunder national title this weekend – the only problem is that they will be vying for the same trophy.

Murray High and Zoe Nieuwhof are sitting equal top in the national Modified Bike points chase and will contest the Nitro Champs at Sydney Dragway this weekend, each looking to gain an edge before the season-ending Winternationals at Willowbank Raceway in June.
20160109aonfc-28For both it will be their first time racing interstate. High, who won the Westernationals earlier in the year to bank many of his points, was looking forward to turning the massive road trip into a sightseeing adventure and experiencing a new track for the first time.
“Sitting on the top of the ladder, I thought it was a good opportunity to keep racing (during the WA off season) and see if I can get the title,” he said.
“(Fellow racer) Brian Hotker is coming with me, so we will hit the road and try to see some sights as well.”
With WA having just the one drag strip, High is keen to find out how he compares against riders from another track.
“Racing against different people, in a different atmosphere, will make the qualifying runs very important so we can work out what the track is like and get some consistency.”
A little bit of history is also on High’s mind, as the title would be the first under the 400 Thunder Series, which commenced last year.
“Hopefully I can have some success and race well, it would be a good way to celebrate my 50th birthday too,” he said.
High will be joined in Sydney by Nieuwhof, who recently took out the WA Rookie Rider of the Year Award. She said it had been a dream start to her riding career, reaching the final at both of the national points rounds.
“A little over a year ago I was in the final stages of completing my license and celebrating my first pass under 10 seconds,” she said. “If you told me in 12 months time I would be in equal first on top of the national point score there is no way I would have believed it.”
High and Nieuwhof both rode well across the WA season against more seasoned competitors, though Nieuwhof acknowledged they were still newcomers.
“Murray won WA Rookie Rider of the year in 2015 and I have won it this year so it’s a battle of relative new kids on the block,” she said.
“With less than a week to go there is a lot of excitement and nerves gathering. I’m trying not to let the pressure get to me so that I can just focus on enjoying the experience, surrounded by loved ones and all the other people that bring the fun to racing. That’s how I started the season and that’s how I will finish it.”
Newcomer or not, Nieuwhof was happy to have the backing of the WA drag racing community behind her to meet the logistical challenge of getting a race operation across the country.
“We used Facebook to spread the word about our goals to chase the championship and within a week we had a major sponsor in Croker Construction and with a GoFundMe page managed to raise the remaining funds in less than four days.”


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