A1 Australian Champions Thunderbolt AR to race at Godzone
A trans-Tasman battle is looming between Australian and New Zealand adventure racing teams as GODZone prepares to welcome the first
A1 Australia Champions to compete at Chapter 7 in Fiordland next March.
Thunderbolt AR won the A1 Australia Champion title by achieving first place in the series four flagship events, including the Hells Bells 24 hour race on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, two 48 hour races including the X Marathon in Victoria and the 400km season finale Wildside expedition race in Canberra.
A1 Australia CEO Todd Vickery says the core team made up of Hugh Stoddart, Leo Theoharis, Bernadette Dornom and Josh Street (with the help of substitute teammate Dave Schloss) are fast becoming one of Australia’s most successful adventure racing teams.
“ The series brought together the best Aussie teams to battle it out and Thunderbolt AR deservedly came out on top, earning bragging rights of being Australia’s top adventure racing team,” says Vickery. “They were pushed all the way including a nail-biting sprint finish at Hells Bells, but showed their class and why they are the team to beat right now.”
The A1 Series awards points according to a results scale that is accumulated throughout the series to determine the champion team. Team Thunderbolt AR shared in the $10,000 prize purse as well as earning a coveted racing spot at GODZone, the worlds largest expedition adventure race.
Vickery says he is proud that Thunderbolt will represent A1 Australia at GODZone Chapter 7 signaling the start of a tradition of sending Australia’s top teams to compete alongside the world’s best.
Thunderbolt AR team captain Hugh Stoddart says being crowned the A1 Australian Champions was rewarding and the team has had a positive 12 months of racing.
“ It was a bit unexpected but we have had a good year and a few things have gone our way. It was great to win every race – but it was closer than what the results indicate with a few sprint finishes to get us across the line,” says Stoddart. “We are generally not driven by specific goals and are a bunch of experienced racers who go out to have fun, hope we don’t suffer too much and see what results come.”
Collectively Thunderbolt AR has over 30 expedition races under their belt and the team is expected to be competitive amongst the GODZone field of 100 national and international teams.
GODZone Chapter 7 will be held from the 1st – 10th March 2018 in the world heritage region of Fiordland. Stoddart admits to a fair degree of nervousness about what the race will deliver.
“We are too scared to be looking forward to it,” says Stoddart. “Some of us raced at GODZone Chapter 1 and we will enjoy spending time with great friends laughing, suffering and helping each other out. We are a team that likes variety, as in more difficult navigation - famous last words really as I am sure we will now get lost at GZ!”
The A1 Series was recently launched in New Zealand unifying five adventure racing events around the country. The trans-Tasman series mandate is to grow the sports national and international profile and increase participation in adventure racing worldwide.