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Land Speed Record Not For The Faint-hearted

Napier man Walter Rands-Trevor, primed and ready to begin his land-speed record bid on Goudies Road, near Reporoa. Photo by Kit Greer.

There is perhaps nothing as scary or as thrilling at the same time as achieving a land speed record on a motorcycle.

With no chassis or panels to surround the rider, no padding, no bumpers and no air bags, the adrenaline rush surely defies description and, in the tradition of legendary Kiwi motorcycling pioneer Burt Munro before him, Hawke's Bay man Walter Rands-Trevor certainly now knows that feeling intimately.

For Napier's Rands-Trevor, a 44-year-old product manager for a motorcycle insurance company, his achieving the New Zealand 1050cc Flying Quarter-mile land-speed record of 321.8kmph at Goudies Road, near Reporoa, on March 20 this year is the culmination of many years of trying.

"It all started when my partner and her family had been heading away to the Bonneville Salt Flats (in the United States) and they set a car record over there in 2006 and had always said to me there's a space in the container if I wanted to chuck a bike in there,” said Rands-Trevor.

"It snowballed from there. I eventually managed to source a Kawasaki ZX10 at a good price and realised that, with a few tweaks, it could be competitive. My first bike was a 2008-model, which I took over to Bonneville in 2012. I had done much development as I could with that bike.

"Then I got the newer-generation bike, the 2011-model Kawasaki that I'm still running today," he said.

"I've been doing events here in New Zealand for quite a while and competed at every event at Goudies Road since the inception of the New Zealand Landspeed Association.

"This is the first time that we've combined with Motorcycling New Zealand to have a crack at ratifying national records. Prior to this it hasn't been official and really just for bragging rights.

"My bike probably only puts out as much power as the latest generation bikes and it's had a huge amount of work done to it, tweaking it over the years. I enjoy doing the work on the bike as much as anything else, particularly working in the shed, mates around with a couple of beers and pizza.

"But the proof of the pudding is in the eating and getting those speeds higher.

"This is the first time that a traditionally-aspirated vehicle, car or bike, has been over 200mph (321.8kmph) on New Zealand soil, not without the help of turbo-charging or a supercharger.

"You do have to build up to it a little bit when you head out onto the tarseal. For me, I've been doing it for a few years now, but you do remain very conscious of your surroundings and the potential for it all to go pear-shaped. You have to be on the ball. As with all riding. you're trying to look as far down the course as you can. It's all coming at you pretty quick.

"I achieved the 200mph 'pass' but not the 200mph average, so that's the aim for me next time. So I will definitely keep working on the bike and keep chipping away at it.

"I want to thank Kawasaki New Zealand, Bell Helmets and the New Zealand Landspeed Association for their support."

This national 1050cc flying quarter-mile land-speed record has been ratified by motorcycle sport's governing body in New Zealand, Motorcycling New Zealand.

The previous record for the 1050cc flying quarter-mile was 187.96mph, set on December 4, 1993, by Christchurch's Jon White, riding a Britten motorcycle.

The event venue at Goudies Road, near Reporoa, about halfway between Rotorua and Taupo in the Bay of Plenty, has about 7km of straight, flat tarseal.

The road was constructed to a very high standard to handle a high volume of logging trucks, but has seen little of the traffic it was designed for. At seven metres wide, it's around a metre wider than most roads in New Zealand and, unusually for New Zealand it's constructed with hot mix (asphalt) rather than chip seal. It has no cats eyes, it isn't a through road and has very few residents living on it, making it possibly New Zealand's best road for land-speed trials.

Credit: Words by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com

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