A see-saw battle has begun to develop in this year’s New Zealand Enduro Championships, with two men now sharing the top spot in the premier grade.

Helensville’s Tom Buxton won the first of seven rounds in the Yamaha and Mitas Tyres-backed series near Whangamata last month, with Cambridge rider Dylan Yearbury finishing runner-up, but those positions swapped around at round two near Porirua on Saturday.

Yearbury ruled the roost on the steep forestry course off Moonshine Road, Kapiti, edging out Buxton by just 16 seconds on the timing clocks. 

That means, with both riders hogging the top two spots thus far, they share the bragging rights, although there is still a long way to go.

Third overall on the premier AA course on Saturday was Wainuiomata’s Jake Whitaker, with Stratford’s Josh Hunger and Whanganui’s Seth Reardon completing the top five.

In terms of the championship, Yearbury and Buxton jointly lead by 14 points from Whangamata’s Jason Davis, who finished eighth on Saturday, with Reardon just one point further back and Whitaker another point back in fifth overall. 

“I was feeling good on the bike and enjoyed the special tests at Moonshine,” said the 24-year-old Yearbury afterwards. “I had no problems today and quite enjoyed the track. It was tight in places and hard work, but I liked it.”

Meanwhile, in the A course battle, it was Tokoroa’s Nick Wightman who led the way at Moonshine, crossing the finish line 46 seconds ahead of runner-up rider Ethan McBreen, from Omihi, while Thames rider Natasha Cairns was third overall on the day.

With back-to-back wins in the series thus far, Wightman leads the trophy chase for the A course riders, with Cairns and Masterton’s Philip Bly second and third overall respectively after two rounds.

Bly finished the day fourth overall at Whangamata and at Moonshine too.

“It was interesting to note that, in the junior support class, 13-year-old Wil Yeoman, from Taupo, opted to ride the full A course rather than the shortened junior course,” said Motorcycling New Zealand enduro commissioner Justin Stevenson. “If he was eligible for the senior grades, he would have finished third overall in the A competition, and beating (Kiwi international moto trials rider) Dylan Ball by a considerable margin. He is one to watch for the future.”

The Yamaha New Zealand Enduro Championships next takes riders to the South Waikato region for round three in two weeks’ time, on Saturday, April 20. 

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

Cambridge rider Dylan Yearbury, now equal first in the 2019 New Zealand Enduro Championships after two of seven rounds.

Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team rider Adrien Van Beveren has won the motorcycle class at the Merzouga Rally 2019. Posting the fastest time on the fifth and final day of competition, the Frenchman rode his WR450F Rally to his third stage win of the event, securing an impressive eventual winning margin of close to 25 minutes.

Putting the finishing touches to a highly-positive week in Morocco, Van Beveren took to the final day of competition knowing that victory was well within his grasp. After four full, long and demanding days of desert racing, mathematically simply finishing the final day’s Grand Prix des Dunes would have secured him the overall event win. In completing the event as he started it, with a stage victory, Van Beveren wrapped up a memorable Merzouga Rally for Yamaha as he headed home a final day one-two finish, with Dragon Yamaha’s rally rookie Jamie McCanney claiming the second fastest time.

Focused on using the 10th running of the Merzouga Rally as the start of his preparation towards the Dakar Rally 2020, arguably more important than Van Beveren’s winning result was the navigational experience gained from opening several long and challenging stages.

Starting the six-day event with a fourth-place result on the opening prologue Adrien topped the opening full day of competition by five minutes. Opening the track on day two he placed third, perfectly navigating his was throughout the stage. Day three again saw Van Beveren claim the win, extending his overall motorcycle class lead. Runner-up on the penultimate stage of the event, he topped the final day’s Grand Prix des Dunes to complete a near-perfect week and claim an important overall motorcycle class win.

Competing in his first ever rally event and racing on a Dragon Yamaha Rally Team prepared WR450F Rally, Jamie McCanney successfully completed the event. Constantly improving throughout the Moroccan competition, once past the opening few days the Manxman settled into the event to earn a well-deserved 11th place final result.

Adrien Van Beveren and the Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team will next compete in the Silk Way Rally, which takes place in Russia, Mongolia, and China from July 6.

Adrien Van Beveren

Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team

“Today was a really cool day – it was so much fun to have a mass-start and race together through the dunes. Also, getting to race with Jamie was super nice. Of course, it’s great also to end the event with another stage victory, but that is just an added bonus. I’ve had a great feeling with my bike throughout the week and I have to say a huge thanks to all the team, who have worked so hard to support me. The Merzouga Rally was all about improving. Improving my navigational skills, and generally starting our preparations ahead of Dakar 2020. We came here focused on improving and I absolutely feel that we did that. The navigation here is very tricky, so to be opening the tracks as much as I did, that gives me a lot of confidence. This is a great team result. Next, we have the Silk Way Rally, but before then there’s more testing and training to do. We keep working…”

Jamie McCanney

Dragon Yamaha Rally Team

“The Merzouga Rally has been a great experience for me. I came here with one goal – to experience a rally for the first time and to learn. It’s been a steep learning curve, but a hugely positive experience. I feel that I progressed as the days went on. Missing one waypoint on day one cost me a lot of time, but I guess it’s good to learn from that mistake. Riding alone for 150-kilometres in competition is something I will remember for a long time. It’s been a great week here in Morocco and to have the support of such a positive, strong team has made it all the more enjoyable.” 

Merzouga Rally 2019

Provisional Overall Final Classification

1. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 15:28:02
2. Ross Branch (BWA), KTM, 15:52:39 +24:37
3. Oriol Mena (ESP), Hero, 16:01:03 +33:01
4. Joaquim Rodrigues (PRT), Hero, 16:02:23 +34:21
5. Alessandro Botturi (ITA), Yamaha, 16:15:43 +46:41
6. Maurizio Gerini (ITA), Husqvarna, 16:23:53 +55:51

Words and Photos: Yamaha Racing

Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha MXGP celebrated its best Grand Prix yet at the fourth round of the FIM MXGP World Championship in Trentino, Italy, after Gautier Paulin secured a place on the third-step of the podium for the second time this season, while Arnaud Tonus put a pair of fourths together for fourth overall. Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Jeremy Seewer rounded out the top-ten after a tough weekend.

In the opening race it was the phenomenal torque and horsepower of Yamaha’s popular YZ450F that got both Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha MXGP riders Paulin and Tonus off to fantastic starts. The duo went bar-to-bar around turn-one, but it was Paulin who took the early advantage and quickly passed two riders to move into third. Paulin instantly pulled a comfortable gap and never looked back, while Tonus fought hard for fourth.   

The second and final race of the weekend was almost a carbon copy of Race 1. Both riders started inside the top-four and remained unchallenged for the entire 30-minute plus 2-lap duration of the race. As a result, Paulin stood on the third-step of the podium for the second time in three-weeks, and reclaimed third position in the MXGP Championship Standings. He now has a 22-point buffer over the rider in fourth. 

Tonus has gained an abundance of momentum in the championship chase following his 4 – 4 scorecard in Trentino. The 27-year-old has broken the top-ten. He is in tenth position, 8-points shy of the rider in ninth. 

Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Jeremy Seewer had a more eventful weekend. The Swiss star had to find new lines on the slick and edgy clay circuit of Pietramurata as he did his best to recover from a poor start. After a thrilling charge through the pack from outside of the top-15, the 24 year-old was able to cross the finish line in eighth. 

In the second and final race of the day, the number ’91’ was placed inside the top-ten on the opening lap until he was hit from behind by another rider and thrown from his bike. He suffered from a nasty cut on his right arm and a sore left knee. He continued and defied the pain to salvage 14th place for tenth position in the Grand Prix overall. 

Seewer has retained seventh position in the MXGP Championship Classification, and looks to come back strong at the next Grand Prix, which will take place in five-weeks time in Mantova, Italy on the weekend of May 12th. 

Gautier Paulin

3rd MXGP Overall, 3rd MXGP Championship Standings

“It always feels good to be on the podium, and I am happy to be on the box. I know I have some work to do to step up and challenge the leaders because I want to join the battle for the lead. As a racer it’s nice to battle hard for a position and it’s cool to listen to the crowd go crazy. I could hear them this weekend and that was pretty special. Now we will go back to work to make the bike better, to make myself better, and hopefully be in that battle in Mantova.”

Arnaud Tonus

4rd MXGP Overall, 10th MXGP Championship Standings

“It’s hard to explain how I feel after the struggle I have been faced with over the last week. It’s pretty unbelievable. I am so happy I was able to fight through it and find some inside strength. I didn’t tell anyone I was unwell because I didn’t want it to affect me mentally. 4 – 4 this weekend is absolutely amazing after the struggle, so I am just very thankful to the team who have stuck behind me through my hardest times, so I can not thank them enough. It has given me a lot of motivation going into the next races.”

Jeremy Seewer

10th MXGP Overall, 7th MXGP Championship Standings

“It was a tough weekend for me. I struggled a bit with the track. I really like it here, I just seem to struggle, I don’t know what it is. Today I felt pretty good with eighth after wheel-spin on the start and having to come from so far behind. I had a much better start in the second moto but had a big crash on the first lap. Lucky I managed to come away with some points. My focus for the next couple of weeks is to come back stronger in Mantova.”

Words and Photos: Yamaha Racing

Team HRC’s Tim Gajser came out victorious after two incredible motos at the MXGP of Trentino. Engaged in two race-long battles, the Slovenian rider kept calm under immense pressure to make two late passes and claim his first MXGP overall of 2019, at the fourth round, held at the beautiful Arco di Trento track.

Tim Gajser

After winning the qualification race, Gajser had first gate pick and that allowed him to get out of the gate extremely well in both races. In the first race he rounded the first bend in around fifth position before making a number of passes on the first lap to slot into second place. As he tracked the leader Antonio Cairoli, the pace increased for both riders as they kept raising the bar and lowering the laptimes. With just four laps remaining, Gajser pounced on a slight mistake and took over the lead, much to the delight of the large number of Slovenian fans in attendance. He then held on for the first moto victory despite a last lap charge by Cairoli, but he knew that he still had to secure race two in order to receive the honours of the overall.

Tim Gajser

The second moto couldn’t have got off to a better start though, as Gajser raced to his first holeshot of the year, putting his Honda CRF450RW in prime position to take the second moto win. As the paced started to rise, Cairoli began to put pressure on once again, taking over the lead at the mid-point of the race. After studying the Italians’ lines, Gajser waited a few laps before making his move to regain the lead, eventually taking over with five laps to go. The two riders then gave everything they had for the remainder of the race, with Gajser coming out victorious to take a clean sweep of all sessions over the course of the weekend.

Brian Bogers

It was nothing more than Slovenian deserved and it sent his travelling fans into raptures as they celebrated their rider on the top step of the podium, at their adopted home GP in Trentino. Round five also sees the riders’ return to Italy, at the sandy Mantova track near Verona. This event takes place on May 11-12 which gives everyone five weeks to prepare for what is the first of three back to back races in Italy, Portugal and then France.

Tim Gajser   243

It is unbelievable. It’s my first win in over a year and it’s just such a great feeling. To do it here at Arco di Trento is especially special because of all the Slovenian fans that made the trip to come and support me. I had two great battles today, we were both riding so fast but I think the fans gave me that extra boost I needed to take this victory. Every lap I could hear them and it was amazing to win in front of them, just to repay them for their energy that they gave me. I am also so happy for all of the members of Team HRC who work so hard to get me to this level, they all deserve a lot of praise for the effort they put in every week, so a big thanks to them too. Now, there is a bit of a break until the next race but we are heading in the right direction and I can’t wait to try and put this Honda CRF450RW on the top step of the podium again

Brian Bogers   189

The first race I didn’t have the best start and I also crashed, taking too long to get back going because I got stuck under the bike. This left me a long way behind, but I got to work and despite this being a difficult track to pass on, I worked my way back inside the top 20, ending up 19th. Obviously I knew that I needed to improve my start and that’s exactly what happened in the second moto. I rounded the first few turns inside the top 10 and that’s where I was able to finish. You could see that if I can fight with those riders, I can finish in these good positions, so that was another step in the right direction. I improved my season best result with this ninth place but I know I need to keep working and that’s what we are going to do in this break.

Marcus Pereira de Freitas

HRC General Manager – MXGP

What an amazing performance by Tim today! To ride so well, with such pressure on his shoulders was just really impressive. Both motos was a race-long battle and to come out on top is just such a boost to him and to everyone in Team HRC. The pace he was riding was extremely high and it was great to see how comfortable he was feeling on his Honda CRF450RW and testament to how well the team has worked to try and get him to this level.
It was also good to see Brian put in a top 10 finish, which is something we’ve known he is capable of, he just needed to put everything together. He rode solidly in that second moto and kept the speed of the riders around him and showed that he fits in with that pack of guys. Overall it was an extremely good weekend for Team HRC in the MXGP class and I hope that we can use this as motivation in this break to keep up the high levels and make sure we perform well in round five of the series.
Our best wishes also go to Calvin Vlaanderen as he looks to get surgery on his right leg. It was a real shame to see him get injured this weekend, when he was riding so well, and we hope that he will be fully fit by the time the next round takes place in Mantova.

Rider Standings

1CAIROLI Antonio222ITA191Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
3PAULIN Gautier21FRA142Wilvo Yamaha MXGP
4JASIKONIS Arminas27LTU120Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing
5VAN HOREBEEK Jeremy89BEL113Honda SR Motoblouz
6DESALLE Clement25BEL112Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing
7SEEWER Jeremy91SWI98Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team
9LIEBER Julien33BEL79Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing
10TONUS Arnaud4SWI71Wilvo Yamaha MXGP
11JONASS Pauls41LAT69Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing
12MONTICELLI Ivo128ITA66iFly JK Racing
13COLDENHOFF Glenn259NDL65Standing Construct KTM
14ANSTIE Max99GBR62Standing Construct KTM
15LUPINO Alessandro77ITA60Gebben V Venrooy Kawasaki
16SEARLE Tommy100GBR58Bike It DRT Kawasaki
17TIXIER Jordi911FRA36Team VHR KTM Racing
18LEOK Tanel7EST35A1M Husqvarna
19BOGERS Brian189NDL32Team HRC – MXGP
20FEBVRE Romain461FRA20Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team
21BUTRON Jose17SPA16JD Gunnex KTM Racing Team
22PATUREL Benoit6FRA13Gebben V Venrooy Kawasaki
23KULLAS Harri151FIN10Wildcard Rider
24GOLE Anton297SWE9iFly JK Racing
25PETROV Petar152BUL7Team Honda Red Moto
26BRYLYAKOV Vsevolod18RUS6JWR Yamaha Racing
27FERRIS Dean111AUS6Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing
28BERNARDINI Samuele321ITA3Ghidinelli Racing Team
29POLI Joaquin179ARG3Wildcard Rider
30RAUCHENECKER Pascal281AUT1Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Racing
Brian Bogers

Words and Photos: Honda Racing Corporation

Successfully completing the marathon stages of the 2019 Merzouga Rally on his WR450F Rally, Adrien Van Beveren now holds a nearly 23-minute advantage at the top of the provisional overall motorcycles class results. Placing second on today’s stage four, the Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team rider once again navigated superbly, finishing just under four minutes behind the eventual stage winner.

Holding a commanding overall lead heading into the second half of the marathon stage, the fifth and penultimate day of the Merzouga Rally featured a 205.27-kilometre special stage and more challenging navigation. Preparing his WR450F Rally himself at the marathon bivouac, Van Beveren was the first rider into the stage and opened the tracks throughout the day.

Easing his pace a little and focusing astutely on his navigation, the Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team rider nevertheless made a handful of small navigational errors, yet remained at the front of the motorcycle class. Despite only pushing at around 80% of his maximum, Van Beveren yet again went on to ride a near faultless stage. Second fastest to the day’s first check point – and comfortably faster than his closest rival in the overall classification – he then went on to record the second fastest time to the second and final check point.

In finishing as runner-up on stage four Van Beveren holds a sizeable near 23-minute advantage with just one day of competition remaining.

The fifth and closing stage of the 2019 Merzouga Rally will see all competitors compete in the Grand Prix des Dunes – a mass start race into the day’s 40.30-kilometre special stage.

Adrien Van Beveren

Yamalube Yamaha Official Team Rider

“I am very pleased with the way the marathon stages have gone for me, and really enjoyed them. Yesterday everything went well again. More tricky navigation, but importantly I had a great feeling with my bike and to win was fantastic. Being in the marathon bivouac last night was great fun – spending time with other competitors, and some of the riders that gave me great advice when I first started in rally, it was so cool. I arrived there with my bike in perfect condition, so today I focused on doing another good navigation. Opening the stage all day was tough, but again this race is the perfect training for me because I have to be completely focused on my road book, not following any other tracks from other riders. I did make some mistakes and got lost a few times, but I took my time. I was riding more like I would in training, not at 100%. It was a very good stage for me. I feel good, my bike is perfect, so now I look forward to the final dune stage.”

Merzouga Rally 2019

Stage 4 Provisional Classification

1. Ross Branch (BWA), KTM, 3:08:15
2. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 3:32:12 +3:57
3. Alessandro Botturi (ITA), Yamaha, 3:34:22 +6:07
4. Oriol Mena (ESP), Hero, 3:37:13 +8:58
5. Sebastian Buhler (DEU), KTM, 3:43:26 +15:11

Merzouga Rally 2019

Provisional Overall Classification [After Stage 4]

1. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 14:33:01
2. Ross Branch (BWA), KTM, 14:55:59 +22:58
3. Oriol Mena (ESP), Hero, 15:03:18 +30:17
4. Joaquim Rodrigues (PRT), Hero, 15:07:19 +34:18
5. Alessandro Botturi (ITA), Yamaha), 15:16:44 +43:43

Merzouga Rally 2019 – Race Schedule

Prologue / March 31 / Erfoud
Stage 1 / April 1 / Erfoud to Erfoud
Stage 2 / April 2 / Erfoud to Erfoud
Stage 3 / April 3 / Erfoud to Marathon Bivouac
Stage 4 / April 4 / Marathon Bivouac to Erfoud

Stage 5 / April 5 / Extreme GP

Words and Photos: Yamaha Racing