The 2018 New Zealand ATV (all terrain vehicle) Motocross Championships are to be held at Backflips Dirt Farm track on Chisholm Road at Pleasant Point, near Timaru, on Saturday and Sunday (October 20-21), with high-intensity four-wheeled bike racing guaranteed on the testing terrain.

Run by the Canterbury ATV Association and sponsored by ACM Motorhomes, the two-day spectacle will feature racing in eight separate categories, including classes for women, juniors and mini riders. The event is being held in conjunction with the New Zealand ATV Speedway Champs at Seafield Road in Ashburton on Labour Weekend Monday, that separate event sponsored by AS Taylor Builder Limited.

Several top South Island riders are expected to be among the leading title contenders this long weekend, not least of all 48-year-old multi-time national champion Ian Ffitch. Christchurch man Ffitch will be keen to rekindle his long rivalry with Taranaki brothers Camo and Scott Keegan, these three riders between them dominating the sport over the past few years. The national champion in 2014, Ffitch had been favoured to win again when the Nationals were held in Taranaki in 2015, until bad luck intervened – with Ffitch suffering a succession of mechanical problems – and the Keegan siblings from Taranaki came on strong, leaving the Canterbury man to settle for an uncharacteristic eighth overall. Ffitch’s mood contrasted sharply with that of the Taranaki camp, where champagne corks were popping as Scott Keegan tasted national championship victory for the first time and his elder brother Camo claimed the No.2 spot overall.

Roles were reversed when the ATV nationals were held at Amberley, north of Christchurch, in 2016, with Camo on that occasion taking the title.

The event was again held in Taranaki last year and this time it was Camo Keegan who again prevailed, although Ffitch also bounced back to claim the No.2 position overall. It will be hard to look too far beyond Ffitch or the two Keegan brothers for likely winners this coming weekend, although Otorohanga’s Shane Robinson and Egmont Village rider Corey Whitelock have been impressive lately and both these riders could be a threat, while Christchurch’s Callum Macrae, the No.3 rider in the premier grade last year, could also be fancied.

Other riders to watch for this weekend include Nelson’s Jack White, 16-year-old Amberley rider Angus Parish and Christchurch foursome Taylor and Greg Graham and George and Gary Doig. Expect also to see Christchurch’s Abby Holliday, Christchurch’s Lori Graham, Stratford’s Nicola Reid and Otorohanga’s Amy Corston to be among those battling for the women’s title.

“I think the competition in all grades will be as hotly-contested as ever. It’ll be a pretty special event,” said Ffitch, the host Canterbury ATV Association president. “I’m in with a sniff of winning (the premier trophy), but it’s great to watch as these younger riders develop and mature too and any of these riders could be title contenders.”

In addition to sponsorship from ACM Motorhomes, the ATV nationals are supported by Duckmanton AG Limited and Ffitch Racing.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan,