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Rising Star

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Racing is in the blood of 12-year-old Kobi Wright, starting his rookie season in theJunior Formula 500 class.

Passionate youngster Kobi Wright has been around the racetrack right from birth, watching his dad and champion sprintcar racer Andrew Wright tear up the track. The Muswellbrook local has already claimed a 3rdplace finish in the Feature at Cullen Bullen since his debut in September 2019. 

With 5 race meetings under his belt and another 10 to finish off the season, Kobi is a busy young star, also playing rugby league and touch football, and just starting year 7 at St Joseph’s High School, Aberdeen.

Under the guidance of his dad Andrew, Kobi has jumped into racing head on with hopes of continuing the Wright Racing name. “My Dad has been my biggest role model,” said Kobi.

“He never gives up when things get tough especially in his racing and always supports me 100% in whatever I am doing.”

Andrew Wright has been racing for the past 25 years, winning title after title, multiple awards and leading the way for Kobi’s career. With a champion racer dad and coach like Andrew, the future looks bright for young Kobi.

Kobi aims to continue learning his race craft as he strives for more podium finishes throughout the remainder of the season. “Racing is really good and I am enjoying learning how to drive the car, but it can also be a bit nerve racking at times,” Kobi said.

“My Mum didn’t want me to race as she thought it was too dangerous. I broke my collarbone playing Rugby League, she changed her mind and said racing didn’t seem that dangerous, the next week there was a race car in the shed but I had to wait 8 weeks for my collarbone to heal before I could even sit in it!”

Kobi’s dad Andrew, mum Hollie, sister Abbie and pop Ray all travel with him to every race meeting to cheer on the racing young gun. With the support of his family Kobi said, “I aim to continue racing Junior Formula 500 until I turn 16 and I would then like to start racing Sprintcars and be competitive in Australia and America.”

With thanks to his sponsors KOAB Industries, Eliminator Race Wings, Osborn Transport and Scotty’s Fabrication and Paint, Kobi looks to finish of the season with a bang. No doubt you’ll see the Wright name continue to dominate the racing scene for years to come. 

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Driving

Off-road Addiction

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If your idea of a dirty weekend includes actual dirt, mud, sand, speed and negating ridiculous obstacles, then a side-by-side (SXS) off-road buggy could be right up your alley!

There’s no better way of getting your fix of off-road action then by strapping yourself and a mate or family member into a machine that is dedicated to being driven through paddocks, up rock ledges or along the gnarliest rutted dirt tracks.

The idea that you can have a vehicle dedicated to doing the rough stuff on the weekend without having to worry about the impact that vehicle damage has on getting to work on the Monday, is something that can have more appeal than taking a 4WD (that may also be your daily driver) off-road for the purpose of pushing the limits of that vehicle.

There are dedicated kids’ side-by-sides and everything in between to suit any skill level from the novice weekend warrior, farmer joe, right through to the seasoned professional racer.

There are sedate, farm-spec models with trays for load-carrying, models built for pure weekend fun, right through to high-powered 1000cc race buggies with long-travel suspension, built to take on the likes of the Finke Desert Race, so there are plenty of options to suit your ability and budget.

Of course, you’re going to need land to drive it! If you don’t own your own property or know someone that does, don’t despair – there are plenty of off-road parks available all over Australia. Not all off-road parks allow the use of side-by-sides due to council restrictions, so it pays to check first.

The two main parks that are easily accessible from the Hunter area are TJ’s 4B Park on the Putty Rd southwest of Singleton, and Bylong Creek 4×4 Park, west of Denman. Both have camping and accommodation facilities and hundreds of acres of bushland and maintained tracks that range from easy to extreme. You’ll generally have to book in for a day trip, weekend or extended stay.

What about road rules I hear you say? Well each park or designated area will come with its own set of rules, but the general rule in a side-by-side is never exceed your ability to get back to where you started from without injuring yourself or someone else.

It’s pretty simple – you should always put safety first, even when you are on private property. Always make sure the buggy is fitted with roll-over protection that is in good condition, wear seatbelts where fitted and helmets to protect your noggin in the event or a roll-over or against stray tree branches and rocks.

If you’re new to the whole world of side-by-sides, we suggest checking out some of the footage from the Finke Desert Race or perhaps getting out to an off-road racing event to check out the action firsthand.

You can check out event details at https://aorra.com.au/events/ or http://www.offroadracing.com.au/. It’s a safe bet to give you plenty of inspiration to get in and start ripping it up for yourself – there’s simply no better way to experience a dirty weekend!

THANKS TO TJM HUNTERVALLEY, OUR 4WD EXPERTS

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Driving

Newb’s Guide to 4WDing

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With all that’s going on in the word right now including overseas and some interstate travel being off the cards, spending some time exploring your local 4WDing tracks has never looked more appealing. If you’ve just spent up on a new rig set-up and are ready to go, but not really sure where to start – then this article is for you!

What to Take

Whether you’re driving a standard 4WD or something highly modified, you’re going to want pack some basic recovery items. Most people don’t go out with a plan to get bogged but eventually the inevitable is going to happen. It’s nothing to fear however, and providing you’re well prepared, most situations will just require a bit of elbow grease and a bit of recovery gear.

A shovel is the most underrated piece of recovery equipment and sometimes you would be surprised at what can be achieved by digging out around stuck components. If you’re travelling solo, a set of recovery tracks are a must. Placed under the wheels of the vehicle when you are bogged, they are the cheapest option for performing a self-recovery and will get you out of 90% of situations. 

A winch is the ultimate self-recovery tool and will get you out of 99.9% of recovery situations and is worth factoring into your budget when buying a 4WD. Otherwise, you’ll want to take a snatch strap, with a couple of rated shackles and have a rated recovery point to snatch off. The most common type is one that slots into your towbar hitch receiver. A tyre deflator and portable compressor are also handy tools for lowering and raising tyre pressures.

Where to Go

The beauty of the local area is the abundance of tracks, but if you travel in any direction for a couple of hours, you will find a whole lot more. If beach driving is your thing, you’ll want to check out either Stockton Beach, Lemontree Beach or Blacksmiths Beach. Although Blacksmiths is the closest, it’s also the most challenging and we recommend cutting your teeth on Stockton or Lemontree first if you’re new to the game. The sand is generally harder packed and easier to drive, especially if you’re in a standard 4WD.

Permits will be required to access these beaches with Stockton passes issued by Worimi Conservation Lands with a list of places you can purchase permits at https://worimiconservationlands.com/beach-driving/. Lemontree Beach will require a National Parks Pass available online https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/passes-and-fees . Blacksmiths Beach will require a permit issued from Belmont Wetlands State Park with a list of outlets you can purchase from on their Facebook page.

Tyre pressures are a crucial a part of spending less time bogged on a beach. On most hard-packed beaches, lowering pressures to 18psi will be adequate to give the tyre a bigger bulge and longer footprint in the sand so that it floats over the sand rather than trying to cut into it. Softer beaches require lower pressures – 15 or even 12psi. Be sure to re-inflate tyres back to normal road going pressures once off the beach.

If you’re looking at tackling bush tracks in the local area, the Watagan Mountains is a great place to start. There’s a maze of easy tracks within the national park and state forest and mild tracks such as Greens Break Rd to wild tracks such as CTP80.

Adjusting tyre pressures to suit the terrain will also help here and we always recommend having an experienced spotter to guide you through tight, rocky and slippery terrain. Picking the right line to get you through obstacles can be much easier when someone outside the vehicle can see exactly where you’re placing your wheels.

Being well prepared and setting your vehicle up right is the key to hassle free and enjoyable 4WDing and luckily, we live in an area that has a wide range of 4WDing experiences. Joining a 4WD club is also a great way to learn the 4WDing ropes and meet like minded people with some local knowledge and experience.  Whatever way you look at it, it’s a perfect time to get out there and start enjoying your 4WD.

THANKS TO TJM HUNTERVALLEY, OUR 4WD EXPERTS

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Driving

Do You Even Lift Bro?

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You’ve just bought yourself a new 4WD and you’re about to kit it out with some mods to get you out on the tracks and touring the countryside. If you’re new to the game, you might be struggling with ideas on where to start and the most practical mods that will be useful for 4WDing and touring. 

So, do you need a suspension lift? It’s a question that most newcomers debate over – “I’m only doing beach driving and a few easy tracks; do I really need a suspension lift?” Well, the simple answer is yes you do, but the long answer is much more complicated than that.

Most modern 4WDs have a whole heap of hi-tech traction aids that work wonderfully with the exception that they all lack two important factors – ground clearance and suspension down travel. These are the two things that will get you stuck!

When you start to add weight to your vehicle with other goodies like bar work, roof racks, fridges for camping and camping gear the extra weight moves vital components closer and closer to the ground, not to mention that the handling of the standard suspension will also be affected.

Most quality suspension suppliers will offer a range of different spring rates to suit the weight you have on the vehicle, so that it’s always handling its best and sitting at its optimum ride height.

The legal lift height in most states is 75mm (or 3 inches in the old scale) over-all, including suspension lift and lift obtained from fitting bigger tyres. The most common way of achieving this is by running 50mm of suspension lift and fitting tyres with a 50mm larger diameter than the standard tyre (which lifts the height of the vehicle 25mm bringing it to 75mm overall).

Now while this doesn’t sound like much, it really makes a world of difference in dramatically improving the approach, ramp-over and departure angles of the under-body components while tackling uneven terrain. It pays to check your state’s requirements as it does vary.

But I’m only doing beach driving.

The thing about beach driving, is that you’re dealing with an ever-changing environment. A hard-packed, easy-to-drive beach one day can be a soft, washed out mess the next day; so raising the chassis rails and body components up out of the soft sand with a suspension lift makes sense, to avoid these bits getting hung up.

There could be worst places to get stuck than on a nice beach somewhere (especially with a fully loaded esky) but the reality is, even though getting stuck is sometimes unavoidable, it’s much easier and safer to not be stuck than to need to do a recovery. A quick YouTube search will reveal plenty of horror stories of bogged 4WDs being claimed by the surf.

The same can be said for driving bush tracks – anything from mild to wild tracks can always change and giving your vehicle the best ground clearance and suspension down-travel will reduce the chance of damage and ensure that wheels stay on the ground and moving forward.

So, a suspension lift makes perfect sense for anyone wanting to do any form of off-road driving to avoid damage and ensure forward momentum, and we would definitely put it up there as one of our top 4WD mods. After all, who couldn’t use a few more inches?

Thanks to TJM HunterValley, our 4WD experts

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