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Start your engines! The biggest offroad racing championship ever to take place in New Zealand is currently underway, and ACG Strathallan student Matthew Bishop is in the thick of the action.
The Mickey Thompson NZ Stadium Offroad Championship series began in Colin Dale Park Manukau on Saturday 13th February and saw the Year 10 student racing a modified 1600cc VW in the Challenger class. Considered to be an adult class, Matthew was given special dispensation to compete thanks to his driving capabilities, and the fact that at six-foot-two he was too tall to fit in a junior truck any longer.
Matthew immediately proved his supporters right by taking top honours in the Challenger class, winning the first round of the competition.
“I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to race in this class as there are some pretty skilled drivers. Most of my fellow competitors are 20 and older, and one is nearly 70!” says the talented 14-year-old.
He may be young, but Matthew is no stranger to offroad racing. He got his first quadbike at the age of three, a go-cart at the age of nine, and he’s been racing competitively for the past four years.
“I started off co-driving with dad in his UTV (Utility Task Vehicle) and began racing by myself in my M Class kiwitruck in 2019. My greatest achievements so far have been winning the overall junior NZ Short Course Championship in Canterbury in 2019 and coming second in class for Class 7 in the 2020 NZ Short Course Champs (adult). Saving my kiwitruck from tipping over in the final at Hastings in 2019 was another memorable moment!”
Already this year Matthew has competed in the First Place to Race in Taranaki and the second round of the Counties Classic in Manukau, and he hopes the NZ Stadium Offroad Championship will further cement his place in the offroad racing world.
“This is the biggest offroad racing event ever in New Zealand and it’s being televised. It’s going to be on Red Bull Signature Series, CRC Motorsport on TV3 and Lucas Oil TV. I hope to drive well, get noticed, and maybe get some more sponsors!”
Matthew is mentored by Carl Ruiterman (NZ Drift champion and NZ Offroad Racing champion 2018). With the support of Carl, his sponsors and his dad (who is as passionate about offroading as he is), Matthew is ideally placed for long-term success in the sport.
“My goal is to be the NZ champion in the classes that I race and ultimately I would love to race in a Pro 2 or Pro 4 truck in the US at Crandon International Raceway.”