Honda have unveiled two all-new CRF’s and three updated models at the MXGP of the Netherlands, along with a special presentation for EMX250 champion Mathys Boisramé, who wrapped up the title at the previous round in Bulgaria a few weeks prior. Mathys’ championship-winning CRF250R was then revealed, resplendent with the traditional gold plate used by series champions.

 

 

The new CRF250RX adds yet another dimension to Honda’s off-road range, taking the CRF250R as a base, with a revised 18-inch wheel, 8.5-litre fuel tank, and softer suspension to become an adept cross-country machine. 3-level HRC Launch Control and stronger bottom-end torque aid the power delivery, while handling capabilities get a boost via a new front brake caliper and Renthal Fatbars.

 

 

A new road-legal CRF450L, built upon the CRF450R, opens up a new segment of lightweight dual-purpose motoring, allowing maximum enjoyment for the off-road hobby rider. With an increased fuel tank volume, all-LED lighting, and side-stand, the 450L is aimed to provide worry-free riding and ownership – even the first major service isn’t due until an astounding 32,000km.

 

 

Last years CRF250R receives a range of new performance, utility, and aesthetic upgrades. Bottom and mid-range torque output get a boost, and like the 450’s, the CRF250R also gains 3-level HRC Launch Control. A new twin-piston front brake caliper, adjustable Renthal Fatbars, and black rims complete the updates.

The previous CRF450R has been specced with an increase of 1.8kW more horsepower, and 2Nm extra torque, for stronger power delivery throughout the rev range via a revised cylinder head, intake, and exhaust. 3-level HRC Launch Control, a redesigned front brake caliper, and four-way adjustable Renthal Fatbars are fitted, along with detailed weight-saving updates.

The CRF450RX also gets a performance boost with more horsepower and torque, the chassis offers a revised rigidity balance, and new suspension settings. Four-way adjustable Renthal Fatbars offer improved handling feel. Carried on from the previous model are the 18-inch rear wheel and 8.5-litre fuel tank.

 

 

 

 

The 2018 Huka Honda MX Fest at Taupo

The popular MX Fest event this Labour Weekend has again attracted all the nation’s major riders and race teams.

The popularity of the two-day spectacular, on Taupo’s steaming pumice and sand Digger McEwen Motorcycle Park circuit, ensures there won’t be a motel bed to spare in the region over the coming days.

With new 2019 model bikes to be tuned and set-up for the upcoming nationals, muscles to be flexed, fresh team line-ups and allegiances to be shaped and a long weekend in which to do it, the MX Fest heralds the start of what could be another cracking motocross season.

World, national and provincial titles count for nothing, international credentials are likely to be challenged and past loyalties go out the window as the new season brings forward fresh and exciting match-ups at this Huka Honda-sponsored event this weekend (October 20-21), with riders such as Taupo brothers Cohen and Wyatt Chase, Mount Maunganui’s Rhys Carter, Cambridge’s Seton Head, Taihape’s Hayden Smith and Waitakere’s Ethan Martens, for example, all now sporting different colours from last season.

Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper, West Auckland’s Hamish Harwood, Mangakino’s Kayne Lamont, Taupo’s Brad Groombridge, Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis, Te Puke’s Logan Blackburn and Beachlands rider Blake Gillard are also expected to be in hot form and sure to feature near the front of the pack.

Lamont was the premier class winner at the MX Fest event last year, while Cooper, Carter and Harwood have just returned from a successful campaign in representing New Zealand at the Motocross of Nations in the United States and these riders in particular will really be flying.

In addition, Australian heroes Mason Semmens and Mick McDermid hop across the Tasman Sea for the weekend’s jam-packed race programme.

Now in its 33rd year, the event is expected to attract riders in their hundreds and spectators in their thousands, with the race programme, as usual, featuring the mini riders, junior and women riders on Saturday.

The following day is reserved for senior motocross racing and this will be “shake off the cobwebs” time for all of the leading race teams as they build towards the start of the four-round 2019 nationals, starting in New Plymouth in February.

Some of the leading female riders expected to line up this weekend include Rotorua’s Letitia Alabaster, Taupo’s Nicolette Epps, Te Kuiti’s Samantha Kelly, Nelson’s Roma Edwards, Opunake’s Taylar Rampton and Rotorua’s Mel Patterson, to name a few.

The mini ranks, too, will no doubt feature a few recently-crowned national champions, with youngsters such as Teddy Shaw, Wills Harvey, Jordan Coles, Charlie Schaw, Maz Parkes, Jacob Beattie, Hudson Swete and Travis Taylor sure to be among those who shine on Saturday.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com

 

 

There seems to be no stopping Auckland’s Sam Greenslade, the 28-year-old cross-country ace notching up yet another win on one of his KTM bikes at the weekend.

Coatesville’s Greenslade took his KTM 350SX-F to win the fourth round of six in the popular NZXC cross-country series at Matata, near Whakatane, on Saturday, finishing the two-hour dirt bike marathon a solid 10 seconds ahead of series leader Callan May.

This was the second consecutive occasion that Greenslade had eclipsed Yamaha’s May for top honours after Greenslade had also beaten May to the chequered flag at round three of the NZXC Series in the Woodhill Forest, west of Auckland, in September.

Those two wins have elevated him now to second overall in the NZXC Series standings, despite his managing only seventh at the series opener in Tokoroa in July – that being only his first ride after being sidelined with a knee injury – and then skipping round two of the NZXC “for family reasons”.

It means he has a steep hill to climb to overcome May’s points advantage but that’s not really a concern for Greenslade because he has bigger fish to fry.

“I am only really using the NZXC Series as part of my build-up for the enduro and cross-country nationals coming up,” he said.

He made hard work for himself too on Saturday, crashing his bike on the opening lap of what would become a six-lap affair.

“It was muddy and slippery and I went down hard and dropped back a fair way (in the 82-rider field), but I managed to get back to second position on lap two and then took the lead.

“Then I had to come into the pits for fuel because I only had a smaller motocross tank fitted on the bike and this allowed Callan (May) to take advantage and grab the lead back from me.

“During lap four I caught up again to Callan and made the pass on him, but then I had to pit again for fuel. He had a bigger tank than me and didn’t need so many stops.

“It was wheel-to-wheel racing over the final lap, but I got the job done in the end.”

Finishing behind Greenslade and May, in third place overall, was another KTM rider, Helensville’s Tom Buxton, with Rotorua’s Callum Dudson (Honda) and Whanganui’s Seth Reardon (Yamaha) rounding out the top five.

It has been a glorious run of wins for Greenslade in recent weeks.

Greenslade had teamed with Buxton to share riding duties and win the annual Pirini 400 four-hour motorcycle endurance race near Te Puke two weeks previously, further emphasising the incredible form that KTM riders Greenslade and Buxton are in at the moment.

Saturday’s race doubled also as round one of the New Zealand GNCC series and the weekend’s win obviously gives him the early advantage in that separate three-round competition.

Greenslade will be looking to continue his current winning form at round five of the NZXC series (which is also round two of the GNCC) in the Woodhill Forest on November 10.

 

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com

It’s Time For Change

I often have people come up and ask how we manage to fill all the pages of DRD every month. Well, I can tell you that it’s no easy task. I describe it as continuously juggling with 30 balls. You’ve got so many different tests, articles, news stories, exclusives, overseas releases, contributors, emails etc. that you’re working on or dealing with at any one time, and you just hope you can catch enough of the balls as the print deadline looms.

And it’s those deadlines that make the job so pressured. Unlike the internet world where you can post anything anytime, delete or modify it if you’ve stuffed up, and add to it if you’ve forgotten something, the world of print is so final. It means that when the big red button gets pushed on the printing press, you’d better be confident that you’ve got all your ducks in a row, and more importantly, all your spelling correct. If you haven’t, there are always plenty of people chomping to tell you that you’ve made a mistake.

We began printing DRD back in 2005, and as I say, once you hit ‘Go’ on the printing press, there’s the ever-present deadline looming each month. We’ve managed to get 159 issue of DRD to the printers since then, along with 174 issues of our road bike magazine and numerous other publications through a major recession, changing staff, a constantly morphing motorcycle industry and the changing face of media. But no matter what happens, we’ve got to reach that monthly print slot, or else. It’s hard work, especially with NZ’s current labour shortage making the process of finding and retaining staff another issue for an employer to manage.

And that’s where we’ve run into trouble with DRD. Yeah, there’s plenty of people out there screaming print is dead and the internet rules, but I can tell you there are plenty of consumers who still enjoy a magazine. Trying to make yourself heard among the billions of daily posts on a social platform is a game that’s only benefitting the coffers of Google or Facebook, whereas a magazine offers a particular and captive audience. Don’t believe me? Well, you’re reading this aren’t you!

But finding someone to come onboard and take over the role of Editor of DRD has proved a significant hurdle, one so big that I’ve had to admit defeat for the sake of many things, including my health. It’s simply too much trying to run a company while getting two magazines a month out the door. So, I’ve had to make the difficult decision to make DRD a bi-monthly publication for the foreseeable future.

For readers who pick the magazine up in the shops, not much will change other than a new issue will appear in the same outlets every other month. For subscribers, a new magazine will only land in the letterbox every other month.

It’s been a tough call to make, but it was either that or end up in an early grave, something I wasn’t particularly keen on doing. And you never know, we might find someone who wants to test dirt bikes for a living that can put a decent yarn together and doesn’t mind being based in Paeroa. We’ve searched long and far, but writing seems to be a dying art.

So, I hope you enjoy this issue of DRD. The next one will hit the shelves in the lead up to Christmas on December 17.

Until then,

Paul

Australian rider, Toby Price, has secured the 2018 FIM Cross Country Rally Championship at the Rally du Maroc in Morocco.

Winning two of the five stages of the Moroccan rally, as well as the short, opening Prologue, Price secured the overall win ahead of his teammate Mathias Walkner with a comfortable margin of over seven minutes. With his nearest title rival, Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla finishing in fourth place overall, Price leapfrogged the Chilean rider in the standings to claim the championship by a six-point margin.

Toby Price’s journey to the 2018 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship title has not been an easy one. A crash at the 2017 Dakar Rally forced him to retire early from the event with Price subsequently spending much of the year recovering from the broken femur he sustained. Returning to competition at the 2018 Dakar in January, Price impressed with his outright speed, ultimately taking two stage wins and finishing in third position overall behind teammate Walkner and Honda’s Kevin Benavides.

But it was riding with consistency throughout the 2018 season which paid off long-term for Price. Multiple stage wins as well as podiums at the Atacama Rally and Desafio Ruta 40, added to his win in Morocco, and resulted in the 31-year-old becoming a worthy 2018 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion.

© RallyZone – Edoardo Bauer

“What an amazing season – I can’t believe it, Price commented. “It’s been a tough one and I didn’t expect to be at the top of the list at the end of it. I had some bad luck back in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of the year, but after that every rally has gone well and I’ve finished on the podium at every round. To win the world championship with a win here in Morocco makes it all that little bit sweeter. If I am honest, I was nervous out there on the final stage today, there are no guarantees in rally racing, especially when I had to lead the stage out. This is my first world championship in any category so I am so, so happy. It’s all credit to my team and everyone at Red Bull KTM, without them behind me I wouldn’t be standing on the top step. I’m standing on the top of the world and it’s the best feeling ever.”

“Winning the rally world championship is a great result for Toby and KTM, says KTM Rally boss, Jordi Viladoms. Last year was really tough with the injury to his leg. He wasn’t even fully fit when he arrived at the Dakar at the beginning of this year but he did an amazing job and took third position. This was already a great success considering what he had been through. As the 2018 season has progressed, Toby has shown more speed, more confidence and all his hard work has paid off by dominating this race and winning the championship here in Morocco. We are really happy for him and he deserves this title. We still have some time to improve even further and hope to arrive at Dakar even stronger.”

Wrapping up the Rally du Maroc in second place overall Matthias Walkner, although disappointed not to have taken the win, was pleased with his riding and the performance of his KTM 450 RALLY.

“It was a tough day today – very fast, rough and the sort of stage that you could easily make a big mistake, he said. I had a comfortable gap to the rider in third so I was able to take things a little steadier and aim for a safe finish. Overall, I am happy with my performance here in Morocco and thrilled to take third in the championship.”

Following an issue earlier in the rally where a heavy impact with a large rock damaged his rear tyre and mousse and resulted in lost time, it would always be a challenge for Sam Sunderland to bridge the gap to the front-runners. Despite the setback, the British rider posted some excellent stage results, enough to regain a position inside the top-10 at the climax of the event.

“I am really happy with my rally here in Morocco, the British rider commented – the team have all done a great job. I had some bad luck earlier on but overall I am pleased with how things have gone as my riding and navigation were strong throughout the rally.”

Team junior Luciano Benavides rode a solid Rally du Maroc and continues to gain valuable experience onboard his KTM 450 RALLY machine. The young Argentinian now looks forward to his next ride at the Dakar in three months’ time.

The FIM World XC Rally Championship returns next year with the 2019 Dakar Rally in Peru, starting January 6, 2019.

Final Standings – 2018 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship

1. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 91 points
2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Husqvarna, 85pts
3. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 75pts
4. Paulo Goncalves (POR), Honda, 70pts
5. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 56pts