Scheduled for the 29th to the 31st of March, 2019, registrations are open once again for the Tussock Buster, held in the massive expanse of Waiouru’s Military training area. Utilising about half of the 63,000 hectares, with almost 300km of marked riding trails, most of which are bulldozed and graded annually by the Offlimits team. Suitable for all ages and all levels of rider ability, the Tussock Buster is the largest trail ride event in Australasia and is regarded by many as being the best event of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Each event is different, meaning a wholely new experience for riders year to year. You really have to attend to see how different it is to other events!

There are tracks for all levels of competency, with designated kids tracks for bikes under 85cc. There are also a number of short trails ranging from 10 to 35 kilometres in length. These are rideable on bikes 85c and larger. Approximately 90% of the trails are graded as ‘easy’, with about 10% which are regarded as being a steep up or downhill. These would be easily navigated by intermediate or expert riders, but would be difficult for novice or younger riders. The organisers kindly ask riders to be observant of the signs posted for the more difficult loops – your fuel tank capacity might not be sufficient!

Parents are asked to accompany all young children on the open tracks and assist them when they encounter difficulty. The longer tracks can be over 75 kilometres in length and are not technically difficult (apart from the signposted ‘expert only’ trails) but they do go to higher altitudes.

Camping is provided on Friday and Saturday nights for approximately 900 people by the Waiouru Rugby/sports fields, including hot showers, portaloos, and the rugby club bar. Hot meals are available from the Waiouru community shop on site.

Tussock Buster is a two-wheeled only event, and fire extinguishers are compulsory for all riders over the age of 12-years. (The Honda service tents will have 0.3kg fire extinguishers available for purchase at the event should you forget!) No open fires are permitted in the campsite.

The organisers will have a tanker based refuel station in the training area for bikes to complete the longer loops. Using a token system for fuel has worked well in the past, so will be implemented again this year.

Prices vary depending on how early you register, and registrations will be available on the day, but if you are keen you need to get in quick to secure a great discount on entry fees.

Being a Military training ground, the event may be rescheduled or cancelled due to any weather or fire risk, or for military requirements.

For more information and to register, check the Tussock Buster website: https://www.offlimits.co.nz/project/tussock-buster/
or our own MotoEvents page: http://motoevents.nz/tussock-buster-2019/

Online pre-registrations will close at 8pm on Tuesday the 19th of March.

The major motocross season will officially begin with the Italian International MX series. This event has traditionally served as an indulgent teaser before the World Championship Series that will kick off on Sunday, March 3rd with the first race in Argentina. 

There are three rounds on the schedule for the Italian International MX series. On Sunday, January 27th, round 1 got everything started at Riola Sardo; round 2 will take place at Ottobiano on February 3rd and on February 10th, round 3 will be held in Mantua.

In Sardinia Sidi and their riders stood out immediately as absolute stars. In the MXGP race, Tony Cairoli (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) won the competition and laid down the law. Cairoli appeared to be in top form as he takes on the 2019 MXGP World Series on a quest to capture his tenth title. The Sidi house is also proud to point out the good eighth place obtained by Alessandro Lupino (Gebben Van Venrooy Kawasaki). Jorge Prado (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) won the MX2 race; after ending 2018 with the young Spanish rider as the winner of the MX2 World title, and now he looks like he’s ready to go to bat again. Sidi also gives a nod to Alberto Forato (Maddii Racing), who ranked in tenth place. 
Finally, Sidi also shined on the podium in the Superfinal round, which saw the best 20 riders from MXGP and the best 20 riders from MX2. In fact, Tony Cairoli once again put everyone in line, and Jorge Prado scored a fantastic third place, proving he’s got what it takes to keep up with the big boys. 

YOU TOO SHOULD CHOOSE CROSSFIRE 3 SRS…
What is the secret weapon of all their champions’? Crossfire 3 SRS, of course. This is the unbeatable boot on any terrain and in any conditions. There are no equals; in the last several seasons it has earned the title of the most victorious boot ever in off-road riding.

Crossfire 3 SRS is available to the public in a wide range of colours, from the classics to more appealing modern hues aimed at satisfying every demand and creating the perfect matching look for any rider. Furthermore, an ample choice of available components and spare parts means to create an ever-changing, personalized look. 

From a technical standpoint, the strong suits of this boot, which make it so highly appreciated among top riders in world motocross, are: 

1) Hyper Extension Block: in action, the foot and ankle are subject to extreme movements and at risk of injury; with a ball joint on the ankle, this system prevents hyper-extension of the ankle, the top of the foot and rear tendons while the leg flexes forward and/or backward. 

2) Adjustable Calf System: the leg shaft of the boot has a replaceable muffler guard on the inside, to protect the leg from the heat of the engine and protect against wear. Furthermore, a rubber insert allows the rider to get a firmer leg grip on the motorcycle frame. With this system, the opening of the boot can be adjusted simply and practically on both sides to insure a perfectly comfortable fit, even on the largest calves. Not only that; this feature also meets the needs of riders who often wear knee guards and braces that need more room to be worn, without interfering with the proper closure of the boot. 

3) Dovetail Sole Srs: this is an innovative design and a revolutionary substitution system. The sole’s point and heel are fixed in place, while the central part, made up of a rubber insert, has been designed with a new interlocking system with 4 safety screws, so it can be changed out. The boot is also available in a version featuring the Ideal MX sole in rubber. 

Crossfire 3 SRS and Crossfire 3, with their various versions, cover all sizes from 40 to 50. The Sidi collection is available on the Motogear website, New Zealand’s Distributors:  https://www.motogear.co.nz/search?q=sidi+crossfire+3, where you can also verify the colours and models available for New Zealand.

The Red Bull KTM star, who won 17 from 19 Grands Prix in 2018, suffered the injury Friday afternoon while training at the Albaida circuit in southern Spain. Herlings immediately flew back to Belgium that day and underwent a procedure with renowned surgeon Dr Claes to fix fractures in his right foot. Thankfully the 24 year old did not sustain damage to his ankle and the whole operation took place swiftly and with success.

Herlings had planned to race the Hawkstone Park International in the UK on February 16th but will now focus entirely on his rehab. He will change his cast next week and is scheduled for a consultation with medical staff in six weeks to determine the full extent of the recovery time, making his participation in the opening round of the FIM Motocross World Championship in Argentina on March 3rd unlikely.

Jeffrey Herlings“I landed strangely from a jump and was at an angle when I went too close to the track ‘wall’ of dirt at Albaida. I got my foot caught between the bike and the mud. I knew we were in trouble, and we had the operation as soon as possible when we saw the foot was starting to swell. This is obviously not the best way to start 2019 but we’d been riding and preparing well and we have to work now to get back to that level. The good news is that Dr Claes and his team were really happy with how the operation went and I don’t have any more pain or swelling. In six weeks time we’ll know more and it all depends how the bone heals. Thanks for all the messages from the fans. We’ll be back strong!”

Dirk Gruebel, MX2 Team Manager & Technical Co-Ordinator, Red Bull KTM“This is obviously a disappointing situation for Jeffrey and the team and also for fans of MXGP because we all want to see the guys fit, healthy and ready to go for a new season. It is a shame the way the crash happened and if it hadn’t been for that part of the track then maybe he would have escaped without a problem. Jeffrey had some first class treatment by Dr Claes in Belgium to fix the breaks in what is a tricky part of the body for injury. Everything went well though and there is nothing wrong with his ankle or anything else that could have made the injury more serious. Now he’ll look to recover again and come back to MXGP close to the form we saw in 2018.”

MXGP World Champion Jeffrey Herlings is hoping for a swift and comprehensive rehabilitation period after surgery last Friday evening to repair a broken right foot.

There’s a fresh name that should probably leap off the pages when spectators peruse the programme at the New Zealand Motocross Championships this weekend.

Yamaha YZ125 rider Jack Dunlop has been making a bit of a name for himself in recent weeks and must now surely rate as a podium contender in the senior 125cc class on Sunday.

The 15-year-old from Pukekawa, near Mercer, with support from Whangarei Yamaha, finished runner-up to Kiwi international Brodie Connolly (Husqvarna), from Tauranga, in the junior 15-16 years’ 125cc class at the annual Whakatane Summercross just after Christmas and then he finished fifth overall against the seniors the following day.

Just last weekend he stepped it up another notch, this time winning the junior 15-16 years’ 125cc class at New Zealand’s largest stand-alone motocross event, the New Zealand Grand Prix at Woodville, taking the trophy ahead of another couple of rising young stars, Whanganui’s James Rountree (Yamaha YZ125) and Palmerston North’s Luka Freemantle (KTM 125).

This weekend it gets really serious as he tackles the first round of four in the senior New Zealand Motocross Championships near New Plymouth.

“That was really my first big win,” said Dunlop, a year 12 pupil at Hamilton Boys’ High School.

“I usually get on or near the podium, but I got a bit lucky today with some of the other riders having problems,” he said modestly.

Dunlop finished with a 2-1-2 score-card at Woodville on Saturday.

“I just try to stay consistent and smooth. I have been doing a lot of training lately, but mostly I just ride around at home. My dad (Craig) used to race at the top level and he’s been giving me good tips. I’m riding the senior national 125cc class this coming weekend, the first time I’ve been old enough to compete in this competition. Hopefully I can achieve a top-three result, on the podium, but I’m expecting tough competition from Brodie (Connolly) again, and James (Rountree) and Rotorua’s Josh Bourke-Palmer (Yamaha), and Wairoa’s Tommy Watts (Yamaha) too.”

It may have slipped his mind, but current national MX2 (250cc) champion Hamish Harwood, from Royal Heights, is also entered in the 125cc class this season and he’ll also be a title threat.

After this weekend, there will be just a short two-week break before round two of the nationals, set for Rotorua on February 17, followed by round three at Pukekohe on February 24 and, finally, the nationals wrap up at Taupo on March 10. 

Dunlop is supported by Whangarei Yamaha, bLUcRU, Harvey Round Motors, Izusu, Crown Kiwi, Alpinestars.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

Pukekawa’s Jack Dunlop (Yamaha YZ125 No.28), seen here leading Whanganui’s fellow Yamaha star James Rountree, the pair demanding their fair share of the spotlight.

The pre-season strutting is over and now the real fight for national motocross glory is set to begin.

Warm-up events around the country have ensured that preparations are now complete for the start of the four-round Fox-sponsored New Zealand Motocross Championships, set to kick off at Taranaki’s popular Barrett Road Motorcycle Park facility, on the outskirts of New Plymouth, on Sunday, and all that has preceded this weekend is perhaps for bragging rights only.

Kirk Gibbs, from Australia, is keen to defend his New Zealand MX1 crown this season, although the 29-year-old rider from the Gold Coast knows it won’t be easy as he lines up alongside an on-form Cody Cooper.

The six-time former New Zealand MX1 champion from Mount Maunganui finished runner-up to Gibbs last season, but, after winning the MX1 class at the annual Whakatane Summercross just after Christmas and then dominating again at last weekend’s Woodville spectacular, Cooper probably feels confident he’s got the pace to snatch the title back from Gibbs.

However, everyone starts with a clean slate in Taranaki on Sunday and riders such as Taupo’s Cohen Chase, Hamilton’s Kayne Lamont and Reporoa’s Hadleigh Knight, to name a few, should not be overlooked as MX1 title contenders either.

“Cody Cooper is riding awesome at the moment, but I expected that from him,” said Gibbs this week. “I certainly don’t expect him to roll over. Before Woodville, I had not really raced since representing Australia at the Motocross of Nations event in the United States in October, so I have not had a lot of time on the bike and the conditions at Woodville meant it was really just a matter of survival and getting through that event uninjured. Hopefully I will be able to turn it on in Taranaki. I finished the day tied with Cooper at round one in Taranaki last year and I think I’ll do well there again this Sunday.”

West Aucklander Hamish Harwood will be aiming to make it a fourth consecutive MX2 (250cc) class title win this season and, always a glutton for punishment, he will also tackle the 125cc class this year.

The defending MX2 champion from Royal Heights will likely face stiff opposition in the mid-sized bike class from the likes of Taupo’s national No.2 in the class, Brad Groombridge, Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis, Taupo’s Wyatt Chase, Tauranga’s Micah McGoldrick and visiting current Australian MX2 champion Wilson Todd.

Harwood could also be favoured in the 125cc class, especially after his dominant performance on the small bike at Woodville last weekend, but riders such as Ngatea’s 2016 national 125cc champion Ben Broad, Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly, Wairoa’s Tommy Watts and Rotorua’s Josh Bourke-Palmer should also be well-placed.

There will be just a short two-week break before round two of the nationals, set for Rotorua on February 17, followed by round three at Pukekohe on February 24 and, finally, the nationals wrap up at Taupo on March 10. 

Round one of the series is additionally supported by Mach 1 Yamaha, while Patterson O’Connor Motorcycles supports round two, Ebbett Pukekohe supports round three and Yamalube supports round four.

Credit: Words by Andy McGechan