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

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

A talented three-man Kiwi motocross squad is revved up to race in The Netherlands this weekend, determined to again challenge, and hopefully beat, the best riders in the world.

Every year, the Motocross of Nations (MXoN) lives up to its billing as the biggest and best dirt bike spectacle on the planet and this weekend (September 28-29) the famous teams’ racing event will be held on the infield of the famous Assen TT circuit in The Netherlands. The MXoN, commonly referred to as “The Olympic Games of Motocross”, is a one-weekend affair that brings together the word’s elite like no other motocross. The racers put aside the past season’s bitter rivalries from domestic or world championship competitions and unite instead along different battle lines, with three-rider teams formed up to fly the flags of their respective homelands.

And it will be a completely fresh trio of Kiwis racing at this weekend’s event in the Netherlands to those individuals who represented New Zealand when the MXoN was staged in the United States last year. All three riders from last season were ruled out for 2019 either because of injury or for personal reasons. That means the young men who have stepped forward this year – Taupo’s Wyatt Chase (Honda), Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis (Yamaha) and Christchurch’s Dylan Walsh (Husqvarna) – will each be making their respective MXoN debuts at this season’s 73rd annual edition of the MXoN.

New Plymouth’s former motocross world champion Shayne King shares managerial duties for Team New Zealand with experienced former national-level racer Darren Henderson. King was the 1996 500cc motocross world champion and a rider for New Zealand at the MXoN many times in the past. He said the race track at Assen would be “brutal” and Kiwi riders should be under no illusions about how tough it will be.

“Every year it’s the toughest motocross event in the world, but the circuit at Assen will be particularly challenging. It’s very deep sand, like nothing New Zealand riders will have encountered before,” said King, a rider who raced for New Zealand at the MXoN on 12 occasions and twice finished on the podium.

The Kiwis know it won’t be easy facing the world’s elite on such a massive stage, but each of them is determined to put on another good showing, hopefully to improve upon their 17th overall placing at the MXoN last September. From rookie first-timers in 1984 to top-10 regulars just over 10 years later, Kiwi motocross riders have boxed well above their weight and often rated among some of the best in the world. Team New Zealand has finished among the top 10 an incredible 14 times in 29 appearances at the event since they first attended in 1984. New Zealand has finished third on the podium three separate times – in England in 1998, in Belgium in 2001 and in England again in 2006.

With generous support for this year’s campaign coming from the sport’s governing body here, Motorcycling New Zealand, and from building companies Penny Homes and Best Build Construction, along with massive fundraising undertaken by the Taupo Motorcycle Club with their Battle of the Clubs motocross event in June, the Kiwi contingent will arrive in The Netherlands in a confident mood.

Motorcycling New Zealand (MNZ) motocross commissioner Ray Broad said this was a huge event and extremely important that New Zealand would again be taking part.

“We are pleased to have three of our talented young riders representing New Zealand this year,” he said. “Dylan, Wyatt and Max have a great opportunity and, under the guidance of Bevan and Shayne, I am sure they will give it their best and none of them underestimate the task ahead. I would like to thank all the MNZ members for their support of the team and the sponsors that have generously assisted the team.”

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

Former national champions and Kiwi internationals from the recent past will all flock together to race once again in Central Hawke’s Bay this coming weekend.

And while these individuals should certainly be favoured to dominate at the 2019 New Zealand Veterans’ and Women’s Motocross Championships in Otane this Saturday and Sunday, it’s highly likely that a few unexpected names may end up being engraved on the trophies this time around, such is the depth of talent that will be on show at the Bay Motorcycles-supported event.

The popular annual event will feature many riders who, despite their veteran status, still rate among the sport’s elite, while the female side of the sport that shares the race programme will be no less intense.

Stand-outs among those entered for the annual event include 1996 500cc motocross world champion Shayne King, from New Plymouth; twice former motocross world No.2 Josh Coppins, from Motueka; former veterans’ world champion Tony Cooksley, from Pukekohe, and former multi-time national champion Damien King, from Cambridge, who also went on to race the Grand Prix scene in Europe.

Former national 500cc motocross champion Mitch Rowe, from New Plymouth; former GP racer Cameron Negus, from Rotorua; multi-time former national champion Mike Cotter, from Cambridge, and New Plymouth’s David Furze, will also be lining up this weekend, along with Te Awamutu’s Mark Penny, Te Kauwhata’s Matt Vining, Auckland’s Steven Croad and Taupiri’s Mark Fuller, all four of whom were formerly top cross-country racing exponents.

British former Grand Prix star Kurt Nicoll, four times a 500cc motocross world No.2, is also a late entry and sure to be a drawcard.

Riders who primarily made their name on the road-bike scene, Feilding’s former 125GP exponent Kris Shirriffs and Whanganui’s super motard ace Ant Rountree, will be there to show they’re just as quick on dirt.

In the women’s section of the programme, expect to see riders such as Cambridge’s Zara Gray, Hamilton’s Amie Roberts, New Plymouth’s Mikayla Rowe, Motueka sisters Tyla and Roma Edwards, Ohawea’s Taylar Rampton, Invercargill’s Charlotte Clark and Ngatea’s Brooke Dalley to feature near the front.

Late entries are still likely to arrive from several veterans’ and women’s grade frontrunners from the recent past, including perhaps Blenheim’s Moston Wadsworth, Nelson’s Bryan Heaphy, Hawera’s Daryl Hurley, Inglewood’s Larry Blair, Whakatane’s Darren Capill, Auckland-based former Swiss international Gaudenz Gisler, Winton’s Brent Scammell, Blenheim’s Steve Lange, Christchurch’s Dean Baird, former Otago rugby captain David Latta, Lincoln’s Kelly Garland and Rotorua pair Letitia Alabaster and Mel Patterson, to name a few.

Hosted on Twist’s property at 1080 Argyll Road, Otane, the two-day event certainly features an entry list that reads like a who’s who and who-used-to-be-who of the sport.

The event again presents real value for money for spectators, with racing over two days for both the elite females, in both the junior and senior grades, and intense racing also for the country’s top male riders aged over 30 years.

New Plymouth’s 1996 500cc motocross world champion Shayne King, one to watch out for in the 45-49 years’ class this weekend.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan