Atiamuri’s Hadleigh Knight is back after a couple of successful seasons of racing motocross in Japan, but he’s not home just to rest and relax. After achieving top-10 results in the motocross nationals in Japan in 2017 and again in 2018, it hasn’t taken the Yamaha ace long to switch over to endurance racing mode and he has just scored two podium finishes on the New Zealand cross-country scene in as many weeks.
He took his 2019-model Yamaha YZ450F to finish runner-up to fellow Bay of Plenty man Ben Townley (Yamaha WR450F) at the fourth and final round of the New Zealand Cross-country Championships near Taumarunui a fortnight ago. Third overall that day was Whanganui’s rising star Seth Reardon (Yamaha YZ250FX), making it a Yamaha 1-2-3 for the event.
Knight then backed that up with another runner-up finish, this time behind Titirangi’s Callan May, at the first of three rounds of the popular Dirt Guide Cross-country Series near Tokoroa a week ago, leading home former national cross-country champion Paul Whibley. His finishing ahead of Manawatu’ man Whibley was remarkable in itself, with Yamaha hero Whibley also a two-time former cross-country champion in the United States.
“I’m pretty happy with my results, but obviously I’d prefer to win,” said the 22-year-old Knight. “Racing cross-country events has been a bit of a shock to the system after racing motocross – it’s different racing at such speeds through the bush – but I do plan on racing a few more cross-country and enduro events now that I’m back home for good. I will do all the rounds of the Dirt Guide Series now and hopefully, I can win that. It’s a series that’s close to home, so that suits me. As well as that series, I will race in the MX1 motocross class to represent the Taupo Motorcycle Club at the upcoming Battle of the Clubs (BOTC) Motocross.”
The BOTC, set for Taupo’s Digger McEwen Motorcycle Park on Saturday, June 29, is a fundraiser event to assist in New Zealand sending a three-rider team to the big annual Motocross of Nations, the “Olympic Games of Motocross” that will be held in The Netherlands in late September.
Words and Photo by Andy McGechan