ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING RIDER TO CONTINUE FIM CROSS-COUNTRY RALLIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP CAMPAIGN AT ROUND TWO

Andrew Short will soon arrive in Russia to race the 2019 Silk Way Rally – a 10-day event that also includes stages in Mongolia before finishing in China on July 16. Andrew’s Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing teammate Pablo Quintanilla will not take part in the event due to his ongoing recovering from the injury sustained at the Dakar Rally in January.

With just over three months since round one of the world championship – the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – finished in April, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Andrew Short has continued training onboard his FR 450 Rally. Keeping busy by also racing some local offroad events the 36-year-old American is physically 100 percent fit and looking forward to the challenge of a new event. With his fifth-place result at the first round, Andrew has shown he can mix it with the more experienced rally riders and is now looking forward to another strong finish, at round two.

Although not competing in the Silk Way Rally, Pablo Quintanilla is close to making a return to competition following the injury he sustained at the Dakar Rally in January. After an extensive rehabilitation process, the 2017 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion has spent recent weeks riding his FR 450 Rally at home in Chile, building up his on-bike fitness.

The Silk Way Rally, now in its ninth edition, is welcoming motorcycle competitors for the first time in 2019. Starting in Irkutsk, Russia, competitors will race through Mongolia to ultimately finish in Dunhuang, China after covering over 5,000 kilometres, 2593.15 of which are timed special stages. With a wide variety of terrain including the fast gravel roads of Russia, picturesque but tricky to navigate hills and tracks in Mongolia and the large sand dunes of the Gobi Desert in China, the event looks set to be one of the toughest on the 2019 calendar.

Andrew Short: “I’m really excited for Silk Way, it’s the first year for the bikes so a lot of people really don’t know what to expect. The route looks interesting and from what I have seen from previous years the terrain is quite varied along the way. I’ve been doing some good training here in the States recently, it feels good to be on the bike and I believe we have made some improvements to the suspension and handling since the last round. Silk Way is going to be a really long race so will definitely be a challenge both physically and mentally, but I believe that’s where some of my strengths lie and I’m keen to get started. My plan is to take things steady at first, get a feel for things and not risk too much. If everything is going well, push a little harder towards the end and hopefully come away with a good result.”

Pela Renet – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Rally Team Manager: “It’s great to have a new rally in the world championship this year and the Silk Way looks to be one of the most exciting. It’s almost certainly going to be a challenge for the whole team – at 10 days long it’s around the same length as this year’s Dakar, and with it being the first time for motorcycles we don’t know what to expect. Andrew has been riding really well and continues to learn, we believe Silk Way could suit him and we are hoping for a good result. Although Pablo is back on his bike, his recovery has taken longer than expected but we hope to see him back racing in Chile for the Atacama Rally.”

The Silk Way Rally – round two of the 2019 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship – starts in Russia on July 6.

 

She may be down a little on horsepower and a female and up against some of the fastest and strongest young men in the country, but Thames dirt bike rider Natasha Cairns is out in front.

The 34-year-old took her KTM 150XC-W into battle against men, many of whom were on 250cc, 300cc, and 350cc bikes, and she finished fourth overall at the fifth round of seven in this year’s New Zealand Enduro Championships, near Masterton on Saturday.

This was good enough to see her leapfrog into the series lead in the A grade (formerly known as the intermediate grade) and she now enjoys a seven-point advantage over her nearest title rival, Masterton KTM 300EXC rider Philip Bly, with just two rounds remaining.

Two other riders share third position overall after five rounds, Tokoroa’s Nick Wightman (KTM 150XC-W) and Omihi’s Ethan McBreen (Husqvarna TE150), and they are both another three points further back.

“I have finished no worse than fourth all season and so you can see that consistency is the key. I sometimes struggle to finish the day, particularly when it’s muddy, but I just keep in there and tough it out. I don’t think a lack of horsepower is actually a disadvantage for me. It’s all about the person on the end of the throttle. If you can get over the fear and twist it on hard, you’ll probably do okay,” said Cairns, one of the women who was instrumental in organising the inaugural Rise of the Queens women’s ride weekend in May, that event jointly sponsored by KTM and Motorex. “It was an outstanding event, with 150 girls joining in. We did trail riding, had a few training sessions and some equipment clinics too… it had a bit of everything. We are already in the processes of planning next year’s Rise of the Queens event.”

Meanwhile, Rotorua Husqvarna rider Bradley Lauder claimed the top spot in AA grade (formerly known as the expert grade) at Masterson on Saturday, becoming the fifth different winner in as many races this season.

Helensville’s Tom Buxton (KTM 350EXC-F) won round one of the series near Whangamata in March, Cambridge rider Dylan Yearbury (Husqvarna FE250) clinched the win at round two near Porirua in April, Thames rider Chris Birch (KTM 300EXC) topped the podium at round three near Tokoroa two weeks later and Whanganui’s Seth Reardon (Yamaha YZ250FX) won round four near Martinborough three weeks ago.

Reardon finished runner-up to Lauder at Masterton on Saturday, with Wainuiomata’s Jake Whitaker (KTM 350EXC-F) finishing third, and Reardon leads the AA grade championship standings.

The double-header final weekend of the enduro nationals, rounds six and seven of the series, are set for Hokitika in three weeks’ time, on July 19 and 20.

Thames rider Natasha Cairns (KTM 150XC-W), leading the way in the A grade in this season’s New Zealand Enduro Championships.

 

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

 

Claiming his second win in the 2019 World Enduro Super Series, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Graham Jarvis has topped the Hixpania Hard Enduro in Spain. Battling his way to a well-deserved overall victory in the three-day event, Jarvis also moves to the top of the championship standings heading in to the second half of the season. Giving Jarvis a fight for the top-spot throughout the event, Alfredo Gomez won the opening two days to finally place as the overall runner-up. Completing a strong team performance, Billy Bolt enjoyed a positive performance to claim fourth.

After his winning result in round three at Erzbergrodeo, Jarvis headed to the fourth stop of WESS confident of adding to his win tally. Last topping the race in 2017, he arrived in confident spirits, but with teammate Gomez also a previous winner knew he would have to give his all in order to challenge for the win.

Graham Jarvis – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing

Staged over three days, racing began on Friday with the SuperEncierro Prologue in Aguilar de Campoo’s town square, followed by Saturday’s Campoo X-Treme cross-country and concluding with Sunday’s feature race the Lost Roads hard enduro.

From the off Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing set the pace with Gomez securing a solid victory in Friday’s prologue. Determined to put in a good showing in front of his home crowd, Gomez didn’t disappoint. Joined on the podium by teammate Bolt, it was immediately clear the fight for victory would be closely contested.

Alfredo Gomez – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing

Faced with a challenging 50-kilometre cross-country loop, that was ridden three times, Saturday’s Campoo X-Treme saw the Husqvarna trio take command of proceedings. Gomez and Jarvis led for the majority of the outing, with Bolt always within striking distance. Pushing a little harder, Gomez was able to break away from Jarvis in the closing stages to record his second win of the event and take a six-point lead over his teammates, headed into Sunday’s Lost Roads race.

In a determined mood, Jarvis was immediately up to speed, working the incredibly technical sections of the course to his advantage. Moving up to the head of the field, he battled back and forth with eventual race winner Mario Roman. A mistake on the penultimate climb while leading meant Jarvis dropped a place, but in crossing the line in second he secured the overall Hixpania Hard Enduro victory, and with it moved to the top of the WESS standings.

Hopes of a home win for Gomez were dashed on the final day, despite dominating the majority of the event. Making energy-sapping mistakes early on, Gomez never quite settled into a fast rhythm. Finishing fifth on Sunday, he ended the event as runner-up.

Billy Bolt – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing

For Bolt, the weekend was a huge confidence boost as he begins to regain his form following a serious off-season leg injury. Runner-up in Friday’s prologue, he then backed that up with an impressive third on Saturday. With an overall podium result within his grasp, the defending WESS champion pushed hard but wasn’t quite able to make his way inside the top three. Finishing fourth, he signed off on Hixpania Hard Enduro in a hard-fought fourth overall.

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing will return to the World Enduro Super Series at round four, Romaniacs in Sibiu, Romania on July 30 – August 3.

Graham Jarvis – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing

Photos: Husqvarna Motorcycles Press

The Husqvarna bike brand continues to dominate the scoreboard after the weekend’s fourth of seven rounds in the 2019 New Zealand Enduro Championships in the Wairarapa.

Eketahuna rider Charlie Richardson took his Husqvarna FC250 to finish a close third overall at the event just south of Martinborough on Sunday, with a gaggle of five other Husqvarna riders following close behind him, meaning the distinctive white Husqvarna bikes filled out six of the top eight positions on the day.

Whanganui’s Seth Reardon (Yamaha) won the day, his first major victory at this level, with Manawatu’s Paul Whibley (Yamaha) claiming the runner-up spot, but the battle for manufacturers’ honours weighs heavily in favour of the popular and reliable Husqvarna bike brand. Husqvarna riders have amassed a staggering 360 competition points over the four rounds thus far, swamping the scoreboard, with riders of KTM bikes earning 289 points. Yamaha is third best on the table, with 202 points.

It’s impossible to say yet which individual might win the series outright because there have been four different winners in as many events so far this season. Helensville’s Tom Buxton (KTM) won round one of the series near Whangamata in March, Cambridge rider Dylan Yearbury (Husqvarna) clinched the win at round two near Porirua in April and Thames rider Chris Birch (KTM) topped the podium at round three near Tokoroa two weeks later, with Reardon the latest to be the day’s hero.

The stand-out riders who finished behind Reardon, Whibley and Richardson on Sunday were Stratford’s Josh Hunger (fourth on the day, Husqvarna TE300), Cambridge’s Beau Taylor (fifth, Husqvarna TE250), Christchurch’s Josh Dando (sixth, Husqvarna FX350), Rotorua’s Bradley Lauder (seventh, Husqvarna TE300) and Thames rider Jason Davis (eighth, Husqvarna FE350).

Unfortunately for Richardson, he has been able to contest only two of the four rounds thus far and is therefore down in 13th overall for the series, but such is the depth of talent in this sport in New Zealand that any rider among the top 20 or so are capable of winning on any particular day.

“I had a pretty good day on Sunday,” said Richardson. “It was extremely slippery after rain there through the previous week, but I managed to stay clean and consistent and I got there in the end. I had a shocking day at the series opener, but my result at Martinborough has pushed me up the standings a bit,” said the 21-year-olsd shepherd.

The next round of the series is closer to home for Richardson, near Masterton in three weeks’ time, on June 29.

With scores from only six of the seven rounds to be counted – riders to discard their one worst result – the race for the championship win outright, and for the various class titles too, could still go down to the wire at the double-header final weekend, rounds six and seven, at Hokitika, in Westland, in July.

Eketahuna’s Charlie Richardson (Husqvarna FC250), who is enjoying racing his bike at cross-country, enduro and motocross events as well.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

 

This season’s New Zealand Enduro Championships will nudge past the halfway stage this weekend, with the fourth round of seven set for rugged terrain in the Wairarapa.

This 2019 Yamaha and Mitas Tyres-sponsored series has featured three different winners so far, so it’s virtually impossible to tell yet which individual might deserve the tag of outright title favourite.

However, the fog of uncertainty may lift a little this Sunday afternoon (June 9).

Round four on Sunday takes riders to remote Ruakokoputuna Road, south of Martinborough, and results there could be pivotal in deciding the outcome of the 2019 championship.

Points from only six of the seven rounds are to be counted, with riders to discard their one worst result, so the race for the outright win, and the various class titles too, could remain wide open right until the final showdown in July.

“The course is steep farmland, but nothing too extreme,” said Motorcycling New Zealand (MNZ) enduro commissioner Justin Stevenson. “It is very similar to tracks we have used in the past and one of my favourites,” he said. “It has been a bit wet there lately, so sharp, fresh tyres might well be recommended.”

Helensville’s Tom Buxton won round one near Whangamata in March, Cambridge rider Dylan Yearbury clinched the win at round two near Porirua in April and Thames rider Chris Birch topped the podium at round three near Tokoroa two weeks later.

And nipping at their heels throughout have been a gaggle of very fast individuals, any of whom are capable and well-positioned to move up and take the series lead – riders such as Whanganui’s Seth Reardon, Whangamata’s Jason Davis, Wainuiomata’s Jake Whitaker, Tokoroa’s Jake Wightman or Cambridge’s Beau Taylor.

Even Stratford’s Josh Hunger, Rotorua’s Bradley Lauder, Cambridge’s Ashton Grey and Christchurch’s Josh Dando, who also feature among the leading dozen or so riders, could possibly count themselves outside chances of winning the series overall, while entries have come in for Sunday’s event from Tauranga’s former motocross world champion Ben Townley and Manawatu’s Paul Whibley, a two-time former cross-country champion in the United States.

It’s highly unlikely that any of the event winners so far will go onto be crowned national champion this year, with Buxton and Yearbury currently overseas and Birch also committed off-shore, leaving a vacuum that will almost certainly be filled by the likes of Reardon, Davis, Whitaker, Wightman or Taylor.

This weekend’s event at Martinborough and the round five event that follows at Masterton on June 29 could be pivotal in the championship chase, which will wrap up with a double-header, rounds six and seven, on consecutive days in Hokitika in July.

The 2019 Yamaha NZ Enduro Championships are supported by Mitas tyres, Macaulay Metals, Best Build Construction, Silver-bullet, Kiwi Rider magazine, Dirt Rider Downunder magazine and Moto Events NZ.

 

2019 Yamaha NZ Enduro Champs calendar:

Round 1 – Saturday, March 16 – Thames
Round 2 – Saturday, April 6 – Kapiti
Round 3 – Saturday, April 20 – South Waikato
Round 4 – Sunday, June 9 – Martinborough
Round 5 – Saturday, June 29 – Bideford, Masterton
Round 6 – Friday, July 19 – Hokitika, Westland
Round 7 – Saturday, July 20 – Hokitika, Westland

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan