When Tauranga’s Ben Thomasen crashed out of the motocross nationals near Timaru just a few years ago, even he probably didn’t think it would mean a completely different sporting career would open up.
A leading motocross rider, he is now discovering huge success racing rally car events.
Thomasen won the tarmac portion of the annual Motorsport BOP Hillclimb Challenge last weekend and wrapped up the overall win in the two-round contest.
The previous weekend he had driven his Subaru Impreza to victory at the MacDougall Quarry Rd gravel event and by edging out his nearest rival, Phil Jones (Rotorua), in a close tarmac battle on Sunday he won the Gregg Taylor Hillclimb Challenge Trophy by 1.8 seconds.
The 28-year-old Thomasen has made an impressive transition to four wheels after sustaining life-threatening spinal and internal injuries in the accident in 2008.
In spite of being told by doctors he would probably never walk again, he competed in his first car club events in mid-2009 in a Toyota Starlet and drove in his first rally early last year.
Since switching to a Subaru Impreza WRX, he has achieved three wins in local car-club hillclimbs and promising rally results, including second place in the recent Possum Bourne Memorial Rally.
Motorsport BOP Te Puke Quarry Rd Hillclimb – results:
1 Ben Thomasen (Subaru Impreza STI) 1m 09.44s; 2 Phil Jones (Mitsubishi Galant VR4) 1m 09.97s; 3 Mike Torr (Subaru Impreza WRX) 1m 10.84s; 4 Ian Carroll (Ford Escort) 1m 11.16s; 5 Shane Wright (Nissan Skyline) 1m 12.13s; 6 Phil Campbell (Mitsubishi Mirage V6) 1m 12.22s; 7 James de la Haye (Subaru Impreza WRX) 1m 12.37s; 8 Chris Hawkes (Chevrolet Pickup) 1m 12.56s; 9 Ashley Adlington (Mitsubishi Galant VR4) 1m 12.78s; 10 Will Litchfield (Subaru Legacy) 1m 13.28s.
2011 Gregg Taylor Hillclimb Trophy (combined gravel and tarmac results):
1 Ben Thomasen 2m 22.42s; 2 Phil Jones 2m 24.22s; 3 Phil Campbell 2m 31.72s; 4 Matt Hayward (Subaru Legacy) 2m 34.01s; 5 Shane Wright 2m 34.91s; 6 Shane Ward (Honda CRX) 2m 50.53s; 7 Shirley Faull (Toyota Corolla) 3m 54.28s.
© Photo by Colin Smith