The trophy engravers will be working overtime after the 2019 edition of the New Zealand Mini Motocross Nationals in Hawke’s Bay at the weekend.
And the jewellers may as well get templates made for the recipients too, as they’ll no doubt be etching some of these same names into silverware again in the near future.
Talent certainly abounded at the Ngaruroro Raceway, at Mere Road in Fernhill, on the outskirts of Hastings, for this year’s two-day Un4Seen Decals-sponsored event – for riders aged between four and 11 years and riding bikes with engine capacities anywhere between 50cc and 112cc.
With an impressively-large entry list and intense racing at the weekend, it showed the sport in a positive light and showed it was extremely healthy at this grassroots level.
Cambridge rider William Pluck raced away with the premier trophy as he won the 9-11 years’ 65cc class, finishing the weekend 10 points clear of runner-up rider Rafe Paewai,
Pahiatua youngster Paewai actually won more races than Pluck – clinching three of five wins in this class – but, unfortunately, he also failed to finish one race and this cost him dearly.
Meanwhile, it was a fourth consecutive national mini motocross title win for Pluck, who had previously won the 7-11 years’ small trail bike class in both 2017 and 2018 and he had also won the 6-8 years’ 50cc intro trail bike class in 2016.
New Plymouth’s Travis Taylor finished third outright in 7-8 years’ 65cc class last season, but he stepped up a grade this year and ended up on the podium again, once more finishing third, just 10 points behind Paewai in the 9-11 years’ 65cc class.
Perhaps the most impressive performance of the weekend came from Tauranga’s Arama Te Whetu in the 7-8 years’ 65cc class.
Fourth overall in this same class last year, Te Whetu simply owned the race track this time around, finishing the weekend unbeaten in all five races, the only individual at the event to record a clean sweep of victories.
Runner-up to Te Whetu was Invercargill’s Ryan Keen, while Carterton’s Maddox Swanson, who won the 6-8 years’ 50cc class in 2018, settled for third overall in this 7-8 years’ 65cc class this year.
There was another rider besides Pluck who managed to make it consecutive title wins too – Christchurch’s Levi McMaster won the 4-7 years’ 50cc class last year and this time around he won four out of five races to end top of the 6-8 years’ 50cc class, comfortably edging out Gisborne’s Jaxon Pardoe and Greytown’s Jack Bennett.
Motorcycling New Zealand’s mini and junior motocross co-ordinator Michelle Davies said the host Hawke’s Bay Motorcycle Club “did a tremendous job”.
“With the way the weather played out, the riders actually had two entirely different tracks to deal with over the weekend,” she said. “On Saturday it was 20 degrees Celsius and the track was hard-packed and a little dusty. It rained overnight and on Sunday it was 13 degrees and the track was damp but perfect. It provided an extra challenge for the riders to learn how to adapt to changing conditions.
“Arama Te Whetu’s unbeaten performance at the weekend was the obvious stand-out, but special mention should also be made of Whangarei’s Hannah Perris, who finished fourth overall against the boys in the 7-8 years’ 65cc class.”
Perris finished just two points off claiming a podium position in her class.
The Central Otago Motorcycle Club, near Queenstown, will host the New Zealand Mini Motocross Nationals next year.
Final leading overall standings in the 2019 NZ Mini Motocross Nationals in Hawke’s Bay:
9-11 years’ 65cc class: 1. William Pluck (Cambridge); 2. Rafe Paweai (Pahiatua); 3. Travis Taylor (New Plymouth).
7-8 years’ 65cc class: 1. Arama Te Whetu (Tauranga); 2. Ryan Keen (Invercargill); 3. Maddox Swanson (Carterton)
6-8 years’ 50cc class: 1. Levi McMaster (Christchurch); 2. Jaxon Pardoe (Gisborne); 3. Jack Bennett (Greytown).
4-7 years’ 50cc class: 1. Rhys Perris (Whangarei); 2. Brody Sparrow (Pahiatua); 3. Van Hazelden (Cambridge).
8-11 years’ trail bike class: 1. Zoe Verhoeven (Cambridge); 2. Troy Downs (Te Awamutu); 3. Riley Westgate (Matamata).
7-9 years’ trail bike class: 1. Jack Hazelden (Cambridge); 2. Harry Pluck (Cambridge); 3. Reeve Lee (Taupo).
4-7 years’ 50cc intro class: 1. Jacob Wilson (Christchurch); 2. Charles Cox (Napier); 3. Atawhai Wirepa-Hei (Gisborne).
Words and Photo by Andy McGechan