Fans arrive for Burt Munro Challenge

Dave Jaggard, of Palmerston North, on his Bonneville motorbike, with Stan Goodrick, of Tauranga, back left, and Glenn Ross, of Nelson, at the Burt Munro Challenge rally site, near Oreti Beach, on Wednesday. Kavinda Herath/Stuff

Stan Goodrick has made the two-day journey from Tauranga to Invercargill to experience his first Burt Munro Challenge.

The longest stage was riding his Honda Africa Twin CRF 1000L for 13 hours, from Picton to Invercargill on Tuesday.

He stayed in a motel that night and set up his tent at the Challenge's rally site, near Oreti Beach, on Wednesday. 

The challenge, in its 12th year, consists of seven motorbike events at different venues, from Thursday to Sunday. 

"I've heard about it for years ... it brings everyone together," says Goodrick, who is an excavator operator. He has ridden motorbikes for more than 50 years. 

Dave Jaggard, a Palmerston North train driver, and Ethan Sim, who is a supervisor at Mitre 10 in Motueka, are also experiencing the challenge for the first time.

Sim rode south from Nelson with a Mitre 10 manager, Glenn Ross, whose only other visit to the challenge was in 2015.  

Jaggard, Sim and Ross are staying at the rally site, which can accommodate 2000 people.

In one of the site's five marquees is a stage which two bands will entertain from on Friday and Saturday nights. 

Burt Munro Challenge chairman Wayne Affleck predicts there will be more than 3000 visitors in Invercargill for the event.

The city businessman was one of the founders of the challenge.

"I'm immensely proud of what we've achieved [over the years]," Affleck says.

He thought the four-day event would generated about $1.5million for Southland's economy.

Neville Hayes's Invercargill business, E Hayes and Son Ltd, is a sponsor of the challenge.

A section of the hardware store is devoted to motorbike memorabilia, with a tribute areas to Burt Munro.

Sixty vintage and classic motorbikes are always on display. 

Hayes says the annual challenge was a "sign of respect for Burt and his achievements".

He says Time Magazine recommended in 2013 that the challenge was "one of the things to do globally".

Meanwhile, three of the four roads being used for the challenge's street race on Sunday will be closed from 1pm on Saturday.

Race organiser Garry Jamieson and volunteers will start erecting safety barriers and fencing on Bill Richardson Dr, Arena Ave and an adjoining section of Fox St on Saturday afternoon. The bottom end of Victoria Ave will be closed at 6pm on Saturday.

Jamieson says 500 barriers would be set up, along with 1.5km of fencing, 300 hay bales and 40 large airbags.

"Motorcycling New Zealand officials have to inspect the track [before racing starts]," Jamieson says.

Racing will be anticlockwise because studies of the four roads revealed better camber in that direction.

"It makes it easier for the bikes to turn," Jamieson says.

The fastest lap officially recorded on the 1.1km circuit is 47 seconds. Among the overseas competitors are 22 from Australia, three from England and two from the United States. 

The Australian bikes will include eight 70-year-old or 80-year-old motorcycles, with hand-operated gear changing systems and speed capabilities of up to 130 kilometres per hour.

Southern Road Policing manager, inspector Tania Baron has put out a request to all Southland road users to be careful and alert with an influx of visitors in the province this week.

"While it's centred at Oreti Park Speedway and Oreti Beach, there'll be more bikes and vehicles around the entire area," Baron says.

"It's going to be a busy place; riders, drivers, cyclists and pedestrians should all look out for one another."

 - Stuff/JAMIE SEARLE



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