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).

Cambridge rider William Pluck, comfortable winner of the premier grade at the mini motocross nationals in Hawke’s Bay at the weekend.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

The future of Kiwi motocross goes on show in Hawke’s Bay this weekend.

Riders aged between 4 and 11 – and riding bikes with engine capacities anywhere between 50cc and 112cc – head into battle when the Hawke’s Bay Motorcycle Club hosts the two-day 2019 New Zealand Mini Motocross Nationals at the Ngaruroro Raceway, at Mere Road in Fernhill, on the outskirts of Hastings, this Saturday and Sunday (October 5 and 6).

The championships are sponsored this season by Un4Seen Decals and the track that’s been provided is sure to test and/or delight these most talented young racers.

Many of the superstars from the premier 9-11 years’ 65cc MX class last season have now moved out of the mini ranks, graduating to the junior competition, and this perhaps creates opportunities for fresh names to be etched on trophies in that class this weekend.

Egmont Village rider Travis Taylor finished third overall in the younger 7-8 years’ 65cc MX class last year and he now steps up to the 9-11 year’s division, perhaps making his the favourite to win this time around, although Cambridge rider William Pluck may have something to say about that.

Pluck won the 7-11 years’ trail bike class last year and he now steps up to challenge for 9-11 years’ 65cc MX class honours.

Meanwhile, riders such as Pokeno’s Noah Otunuku, Palmerston North’s Murphy Barr, Auckland’s Colton Mcauley, Matamata’s Riley Westgate, Waipukurau’s Seth Iremonger and Pahiatua’s Rafe Paewai have each impressed in this premier 9-11 years’ 65cc MX class races at major mini motocross events in recent months and so they will also be worth respecting this weekend.

Several other class winners from last season have jumped up to higher divisions this year and they will be worth watching out for.

Last year’s No.4 in the 7-8 years’ 65cc class, Tauranga’s Arama Te Whetu, can expect to be challenged in this grade by Carterton’s Maddox Swanson, last year’s 6-8 years’ 50cc class champion.

Christchurch rider Levi McMaster won the 4-7 years’ 50cc class last year, but he will race in the 6-8 years’ 50cc class this weekend.

Pahiatua’s Paddy Parkes won the 4-5 years’ 50cc trail bike class last year but he has since graduated to the 6-8 years’ 50cc trail bike class, where he will face impressive Palmerston North rider Isla Nagel.

Current leading senior grade riders such as international star Josiah Natzke, from Tauranga, and Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis, Ngatea’s Ben Broad, Feilding’s Tony Cvitanovich, Cambridge’s Ashton Grey, Hastings rider Jye Deacon, Cambridge’s Trent Collins and Te Puke’s Jordan Milsom, to name just a few, can all trace their beginnings to the mini motocross ranks.

International pathways can certainly begin at the mini nationals.

Motorcycling New Zealand motocross commissioner Ray Broad said that MNZ had now changed the requirement for riders having to obtain a championship licence and a club licence is all that is now required, making it more affordable for more riders and families to compete.

“The mini nationals is a stepping stone for those starting out in motocross. It is great to see that big numbers will be turning up to this year’s event in Hawke’s Bay. Michelle Davies, our mini/junior motocross co-ordinator will be there as well,” said Broad.

Close racing like this can be expected at the mini motocross nationals near Hastings this weekend.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

The conditions were tough, but New Zealand’s “development squad” battled through and rose above them in The Netherlands at the weekend.

The three-rider squad representing New Zealand at the 2019 Motocross of Nations at Assen fought bravely to earn another top 20 finish at this big annual “Olympic Games of Motocross”.

It was a completely fresh trio of Kiwis selected to race at Assen’s Cathedral of Speed TT circuit at the weekend after all three individuals who represented New Zealand last year, when the MXoN was staged in the United States, had been ruled out for 2019 either because of injury or for personal reasons.

But Taupo’s Wyatt Chase (Honda), Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis (Yamaha) and Christchurch’s Dylan Walsh (Husqvarna) stepped into the breach to each make their respective MXoN debuts at this season’s 73rd annual edition of the event.

New Plymouth’s former motocross world champion Shayne King and Rotorua-based former top national-level racer Darryn Henderson shared the managerial duties and it was their experience and assistance, along with the sponsorship support from Penny Homes, Best Build Construction, plus the massive fundraiser undertaken by the Taupo Motorcycle club that supported Motorcycling New Zealand (MNZ) to allow the Kiwi campaign to succeed.

Team New Zealand qualified 17th on Saturday and this gave them direct entry to Sunday’s main event.

However, a mechanical issue struck Walsh in race one and then he suffered a crash while running 12th in race two – that resulted in him dislocating his shoulder – and these two incidents ruined what had otherwise been a promising campaign.

Chase was toughness personified as he and the rest of the team kept it quiet that he had seriously injured himself during a training crash on Wednesday, a spill that left him suffering ugly, deep bruising all down his right thigh. He amazed everyone that he was able to battle on despite this.

Enduring intense pain, his 34th and 38th (actually a DNF) results from his two races don’t reflect his ability or his attitude and he deserves to be congratulated.

Meanwhile, the youngest team member, just-turned 19-year-old Purvis took his 250cc bike into battle against riders on 450cc bikes in the Open class and he proved to be something of a revelation, his 27th and 33rd results extremely honourable under the circumstances.

New Zealand ended up 19th overall.

As for the actual event winners, the favoured Dutch celebrated their first MXoN victory, Team Netherlands finishing the weekend well ahead of Team Belgium and then Great Britain, followed by Estonia and then last year’s champion Team France.

“The whole team was all about development. The guys even more than was expected of them and I’m extremely proud of all of them,” said King afterwards.

MMZ general manager Virginia Henderson said she was “absolutely thrilled to see our development team achieve at this level”.

“With Dylan Walsh already in Europe and doing well, he was going to play an incredible part in our team’s performance and he did just that, his performance instrumental in the team qualifying among the top 20,” she said. “A huge thanks must go to the team managers Shayne King and Bevan Weal for their incredible commitment and support to lead our team and to Darryn Henderson for stepping in at the last hour.”

The Motocross of Nations will be staged at Ernee, in France, next year.

Team New Zealand 2019 (from left) co-manager Darryn Henderson, MX2 class rider Dylan Walsh, MXGP class rider Wyatt Chase, Open class rider Maximus Purvis and co-manager Shayne King.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

Italian manufacturer, Beta Motorcycles have unveiled their new RR Racing bikes for 2020, a comletely new generation of Enduro bikes, to be brought to New Zealand by Euromoto Co. – a division of Triumph New Zealand Ltd.

First spotted back in July, the new Beta RR Racing range consists of 7 models – 125, 250, and 300cc 2T (2-stroke), and 350, 390, 430, and 480cc 4T (4-stroke). Compared to the respective standard versions, the RR Racing MY 2020 range stands out with upgraded suspension, reduced weight, and a host of special components for racing efficiency.

The RR Racing models will feature Kayaba AOS forks. The new KYB spring forks feature a 48mm closed-cartridge design, and are world-renowned worldwide as being top-of-the-range. A close collaboration between Beta and Kayaba has created a bespoke product which features a new fork shoe design, and a unique calibration that is reserved specifically for the RR models. The use of anodised internal components allows for minimal sliding friction, while the customary compression and rebound adjusters allow for easy use and calibration, to get the optimum settings in any terrain. Offering excellent operation in all conditions, the KYB forks are ultra-reliable, easy to tune, and considerably lighter than before – up to half a kilogram lighter than the 2019 model.

The new ZF 46mm shock absorber has new calibration settings, allowing the rider to get the absolute best performance from the new chassis. The RR Racing models also feature a distinct black anodised triple clamp.

Other racing inspired upgrades to the RR Racing models include: a quick-release front wheel pin, to allow for faster front tyre repairs, Vertigo hand guards, Metzeler Six Days tyres, Ergal footrests, a new battery charging system for the 4T models, and a the 125cc 2T receives a new expansion chamber to improve performance across the entire power curve. New racing graphics and a host of coloured anodised parts complete the look of the new RR Racing models.

On Saturday night, Freestyle MX riders from around the world flew through the Barclaycard Arena after a 2-year hiatus in the Hanseatic port city, for the world’s longest-running Freestyle Motocross sporting series. Taking the competition to the next level since the previous visit, the Hamburg audience were treated to a special event for the first time in the North of Germany with Freestyle of Nations.

Three teams competed against each other in the fourth Freestyle of Nations competition in a bid to collect points for their team in various disciplines of Freestyle MX. The 2017 Freestyle of Nations winner was Team Overseas and in 2019, the team was made up with the most experience of all teams including Pat Bowden from Australia, Adam Jones from the USA and Jamie Squibb from England with the goal to recapture their title.  The 2018 reigning champions, Team Germany put together their best riders available with the brothers Luc and Hannes Ackermann and Kai Haase. The third team to compete was the Czech Republic, with Petr Pilat, Matej Cesak and Filip Podmol.

One of the first contests of the evening was Best Whip where Kai Haase narrowly took full points for Team Germany over Jamie Squibb from Team Overseas who really took the fight to the German and also Matej Cesak in third position.

Each of the nine riders put together their best Freestyle MX run with seven tricks plus the Double Up where the riders could score up to 100 points. In the first heat, it was the same riders from Best Whip going against each other, and again Kai Haase just pipped the Englishman for the win and relegated Matej Cesak to third position. The second heat was a turn-around for Team Overseas when they won with Adam Jones‘ clinical display of perfection as he landed his Cliffhanger and Deadbody Flip in front of Petr Pilat for Team Czech and Hannes Ackermann in Team Germany. In the third heat, Filip Podmol made a valiant effort to thwart the charging of Pat Bowden and Luc Ackermann. After Ackermann’s crash on the Hart Attack Flip, he managed to finish his run with a Front Flip but it wasn’t enough to win over Pat Bowden with 95 points, and back to 90 points for Ackermann.

Team Germany took the full points on offer for the Synchro Contest when Hannes Ackermann and Kai Haase wowed the local German crowd with their tricks performed in sync. Pat Bowden and Adam Jones demonstrated the biggest tricks in the Synchro contest with side by side Cliffhanger and Tsunami Flips but it wasn’t enough to capture the full 100 points.

The competition was close coming into the final discipline of the night, Best Trick.  To throw a spanner in the mix, each nation‘s captain was able to choose their favourite of the Mountain Bike riders, to join their nation to compete for the Best Trick points. Team Czech Republics leader, Petr Pilat displayed technicality in his attempt with a Side-saddle take-off Flip all the way through to Side-saddle landing. Filip Podmol stomped a huge Tsunami Flip landing to set the final points of the night’s competition. Continuing on with the Backflip Combo’s, Team Overseas‘ Pat Bowden landed one of the longest-held Cliffhanger Backflips ever witnessed, while Adam Jones showed one of the cleanest Deadbody Backflips. Even those tricks weren’t enough to win, as only the Best Trick is to be counted.

Hannes Ackermann put it all on the line for Team Germany when he attempted a No Handed Front Flip, but unfortunately, come up half a metre short and was driven hard into the ground with a spectacular crash. It was all on Luc Ackermann’s shoulders to seal a win for Team Germany and after witnessing his brother suffer a huge crash, Luc overcame the pressure to land his Double Backflip on the last jump of the night to take the win in Best Trick and also to win the overall Freestyle of Nations competition.

NIGHT of the JUMPs World Tour in 2019 is inching its way towards crowning a new World Champion. The next event on the World Tour calendar will be in Wuhan, China at the end of November, before the Grand Final in Sofia, Bulgaria where NIGHT of the JUMPs will crown the new World Champion. Looking forward into the year 2020, the new World Championship season will start at NIGHT of the JUMPs in Berlin on 21st and 22nd of February in the Mercedes Benz Arena.

NIGHT of the JUMPs – Freestyle of Nations

Hamburg, 20. September 2019

Results Overall

  1. Team Germany, L. Ackermann, H. Ackermann, K. Haase – 549 Points
  2. Team Overseas, P. Bowden (AUS), A. Jones (USA), J. Squibb (GBR) – 507 Points
  3. Team Czech, P. Pilat, F. Podmol, M. Cesak – 434 Points

Results Freestyle Heat 1

  1. Kai Haase, Team GER – 83 Points
  2. Jamie Squibb, Team Overseas – 79 Points
  3. Matej Cesak, Team CZE – 78 Points

Results Freestyle Heat 2

  1. Adam Jones, Team Overseas – 91 Points
  2. Petr Pilat, Team CEZ – 86 Points
  3. Hannes Ackermann, Team GER – 77 Points

Results Freestyle Heat 3

  1. Pat Bowden, Team Overseas – 95 Points
  2. Luc Ackermann, Team GER – 90 Points
  3. Filip Podmol, Team CZE – 90 Points

Results Best Whip Contest

  1. Kai Haase, Team GER – 100 Points
  2. Jamie Squibb, Team Overseas – 75 Points
  3. Matej Cesak, Team CZE – 50 Points

Results Synchro Contest

  1. Team Germany H. Ackermann, K. Haase – 100 Points
  2. Team Overseas P. Bowden, A. Jones – 75 Points
  3. Team Czech P. Pilat, F. Podmol – 50 Points

Results FMX Best Trick Contest

  1. Luc Ackermann, Team GER, Double Backflip – 99 Points
  2. Pat Bowden, Team OS, Cliffhanger Flip – 92 Points
  3. Petr Pilat, Team CZE, Can Takeoff Flip – 80 Points


Words and Photos: NIGHT of the JUMPs