Porirua’s Dylan Ball created history at the weekend when he became the youngest rider to win the New Zealand Trial Championships in the premier division.

The just-turned 15-year-old won the Expert Grade at the AdrenalinR Mufflers-sponsored three-day contest in Hawke’s Bay over Labour Weekend, the annual event wrapping up on Monday.

Tauranga’s Stefan Merriman won the same title as a 16-year-old in 1989, before he went on to win the junior world title that same year.

Ball could also become a world champion if he keeps the momentum going and he has already experienced competition overseas, tackling the 125cc class at the world championships in Europe and Japan earlier this year, finishing eighth overall out of 20 riders.

Ball, a year 10 pupil at Whitby Collegiate, also won the Junior Grade at the weekend, edging out Hunterville’s Hannah Rushworth, while Rushworth herself did grab a national title, winning the Women’s Grade ahead of Wellington’s Isla Davis and Christchurch’s Evie Hubbard.

His focus was on the premier grade and there he proved unstoppable, clearly winning all three days, out-scoring Christchurch’s Jules Huguenin and Taranaki’s Matt Foster.

Australian visitor Kevin Zarcynski won the New Zealand Experts Grade title last year but he was a no-show this time around.

“The course was right up my alley,” said Ball. “It was mostly steep rocks and that’s a challenge I enjoy. I didn’t drop too many points all weekend. I knew Jules (Huguenin) and Matt (Foster) were riding pretty well, but I just concentrated on doing my own thing. It has been a massive year for me and this result is a huge confidence-booster for me. I have been riding against top opposition overseas and training on pretty extreme terrain. I hope to go back to train more with (former world-class trial rider) Joan Pons in Barcelona next year. I just have to get my school exams out of the way first.”

Other class winners in Hawke’s Bay at the weekend were Whangarei rider Luke March (A Grade), originally from Hawke’s Bay; Taranaki’s Jason Day (Intermediates); Wellington’s Cameron Judd (Mini A); Upper Hutt’s Luke Pearce (Mini B); Upper Hutt’s Ben Pearce (Mini C); Napier’s Paul Simmonds (Presidents Grade); Wellington’s Mark Sidebotham (Sportsmans); Tauranga’s Warwick Merriman (Clubmans); Rangiora’s Paul Jackson (Twin Shock).

Meanwhile, the North Island versus South Island Teams’ Challenge was won by the North Island, 25 points to 14.

Motorcycling New Zealand trial commissioner Paul Jackson said everyone was really happy with the content of the sections.

“They were long sections and quite physical, but not dangerous. The riders needed to maintain their concentration. We had 22 mini riders entered and that was impressive,” he said. “The minis was the highlight of the weekend. We introduced this class this year and it has been a great success. The minis had great support from parents, which was good to see too.”

Run by the Hawke’s Bay Motorcycle Club, day one of this event was set at  Tongoio, north of Eskdale, on Saturday, with day two at Waitara Road, off the Napier-Taupo Road, and it was wrapped up with day three at Dartmoor on Labour Day Monday.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

The national titles just keep piling up for Stratford’s Camo Keegan.

He was at his authoritative best on the Hack Track circuit near Eltham on Labour Weekend Saturday and Sunday as he successfully defended his premier grade, up-to-750cc class, title at the annual New Zealand ATV Championships.

Remarkably, this was Keegan’s fourth consecutive national ATV title win and his fifth in total.

Sponsored this year by Reid Recovery, the spectacular, steep and flowing grassland circuit just south of Eltham provided an ideal stage for the sport’s elite to express themselves and 30-year-old electrician Keegan certainly produced some sparks.

When his younger brother Scott Keegan, usually his main title threat, suffered an engine failure and was unable to finish race one on Saturday, it meant that Camo Keegan could probably take things a little easier.

But up stepped Otorohanga’s Shane Robinson, who rode superbly to keep the defending champion honest, Robinson eventually claiming runner-up spot in the grade, while Scott Keegan recovered from his mechanical glitch to snatch the third podium position.

“I was pretty fit this year,” said Camo Keegan afterwards. “I had trained hard heading into the nationals and I think that’s what made the difference for me. I was able to go hard for the whole race.”

“Shane (Robinson) is riding really well at the moment, but the DNF for Scott (Keegan) had a huge influence on the results,” Camo Keegan acknowledged. “My goal was to grab another title, of course. I was a bit lucky though too, because my bike’s engine failed in race five and I still managed to get to the finish. I used my practice bike for the final two races and finished third and then first in those.”

Meanwhile, in other results, Egmont Village rider Cory Whitelock won the Production 450 title ahead of Wellington’s Sheldon Jupp; Christchurch’s Bailey Graham won the Production 250cc title ahead of New Plymouth’s Kaed Smithson; Christchurch’s Harrison Graham won the Production 125cc class ahead of Christchurch’s Madison Bleeker; Patea’s Ian Campbell won the Veterans’ class ahead of Gisborne’s Ian Newman and New Plymouth’s Luke Etheridge won the Clubmans’ class ahead of New Plymouth’s Joel Chamberlin.

Otorohanga’s Amy Corston, won the women’s grade ahead of Christchurch’s Lori Graham and Stratford’s Dannielle Reid, while Reid’s mother, Niola Reid, and sister Ashlee Reid rounded out the top five.

Event organiser Jono Keegan said the track was a “bit dusty”, but it all went according to plan.

“The riders and spectators too really enjoyed the track and we managed to sneak in with the weather. It had been raining in the days leading up to the event, but then we had a clear, dry weekend.”

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

The revving engines will reach fever pitch at The Hack Track near Eltham this coming Labour Weekend as the nation’s elite All-Terrain Vehicle bike racers head into battle.

The 2019 New Zealand ATV Championships – sponsored this year by Reid Recovery – will test riders over two days on the steep, fast, flowing and undulating grassland circuit just south of Eltham this Saturday and Sunday, the spectacular track within easy view of State Highway 3.

And it could again be a big weekend for Taranaki fans of the sport, with two local riders – brothers from nearby Stratford in fact – having dominated the sport over recent seasons and expected to do so again this weekend.

Sibling rivals Camo and Scott Keegan have, between them, shared the premier title over each of the past four years and they will obviously be favoured to wage a terrific battle for top honours again this weekend, especially on home turf.

Camo Keegan actually has four national title wins to his credit in the premier grade – having won the title for the first time in 2013 and then scoring three in a row, winning in 2016, 2017 and 2018 – so he knows he’ll have a target on his back this weekend.

In addition to his brother, other challengers in the premier grade will likely be Otorohanga’s Shane Robinson, while Christchurch’s Taylor Graham, Egmont Village rider Cory Whitelock, Gisborne’s Ian Newman, Eltham’s Shane Hurliman and Stratford’s Kim Reid might also fancy their chances.

There is certainly no shortage of talent and Christchurch’s George Doig, Christchurch’s Greg Graham, Christchurch’s Harrison Graham and Blenheim’s Lucas Collins will also be worth watching out for.

Among the female racers, expect to see Otorohanga’s Amy Corston, Christchurch’s Lori Graham and Stratford’s Nicola Reid (along with her with daughters Ashlee and Dannielle) to be among the leaders.

The event is being run by the Taranaki Quad Riders’ Club, in conjunction with the Taranaki Motorcycle Club and has attracted a wide spread of experience from both ends of the spectrum.

“Riders don’t have to be terribly competitive to be involved. We just want them to go out there and give it a go and enjoy themselves,” said Taranaki Quad Riders’ Club secretary Nicola Reid. “It’s a real family sport. We have riders as young as five-year-old Jaxon Wood, from Rahutu, for instance, and riders in their 50s too, like Hawke’s Bay veteran Wade Taylor.”

Motorcycling New Zealand ATV commissioner Dennis Cox said he was looking forward to another great weekend of racing.

“We have a good number of riders in the premier grade this year, despite the fact that (former champion) Ian Ffitch is sidelined with a shoulder injury and Craig Cox has committed himself elsewhere this weekend, away racing a modified sprint car.”

Organisers plan to run four races for each class on Saturday and then three per class on Sunday.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

Stratford’s Kim Reid (Honda), who will be battling for points in the premier ATV class this weekend.

2019 was a year of domination for KTM’s Jorge Prado where the young Spaniard demonstrated his talent, dedication and consistency to take his second consecutive FIM MX2 Motocross World Championship title. With 31 moto wins and 16 overalls including 14 1-1 finishes this season, the 18-year-old has been nothing short of exceptional aboard his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 250 SX-F, which earned its 11th title win from the last 12 campaigns. In celebration of Prado’s incredible year, KTM created something special and is now pleased to announce the limited edition KTM 250 SX-F PRADO MY2020.

This READY TO RACE machine offers premium components such as Factory triple clamps anodized in orange, a composite skid plate and a Selle Dalla Valle Factory seat. In addition, this sublime model that formed the basis of Prado’s championship winning bike has a race-inspired orange frame, semi-floating front disc, a front brake disc guard, an orange rear sprocket, a Regina gold chain and of course Red Bull KTM Factory Racing style graphics with Prado’s number ‘61’ front and rear. For riders who want the sharpest weapon with an exclusive specification, they should look no further than the KTM 250 SX-F PRADO.

“To have a production bike with the number ‘61’ on it is something that you can only dream of as a child – it’s really special and I think it looks great. We’ve had a fantastic season and I’d like to thank KTM for this celebration of our success together. It’s really cool. I am very proud to be part of the orange family and it’s a big honor to see the KTM 250 SX-F PRADO machine go into production,” confirms Prado.

When it comes to a championship-winning pedigree, the KTM 450 SX-F is a model developed in racing with victory in mind. A lot of this incredible bike’s success can be associated with legendary rider Antonio ‘Tony’ Cairoli, who continues to build a legacy thanks to his nine world championship titles and continued presence at the sharp end of the MXGP field.

 

Cairoli helped shape the latest generation of this proven race-winner, which is simply the most competitive Motocross bike out on track. In tribute to a legend, KTM would like to announce the launch of the KTM 450 SX-F CAIROLI MY2020. This bike is even more READY TO RACE and, like the KTM 250 SX-F PRADO, enjoys exquisite features as well as exclusive Red Bull KTM Factory Racing graphics with Cairoli’s globally recognised ‘222’ number.

 

“My bike is something really special to me and over the years we have made so many big steps in development of the KTM 450 SX-F as we hunted success at the races. A lot of work went into the latest generation of the 450 and I love racing as much as I always have. To have this tribute from KTM is very humbling. To see riders out there with the number 222 on a bike that looks so much like my Red Bull KTM Factory Racing machine is really cool. It’s an exceptional bike that has been developed by the best engineers in the world, and this is a really special model. I look forward to seeing them out there,” said Cairoli.

“At KTM we are proud to have two of the world’s greatest Motocross athletes influence the development of our machines and we are happy to take full advantage of it. In celebration of Prado’s incredible season and in tribute to Cairoli’s continued success in MXGP we decided to build two special models that feature some premium components and a true Factory look. They will be available on a strictly limited basis in European dealers during the final quarter of 2019,” told KTM Senior Product Manager Offroad, Joachim Sauer.

For more information please visit your local KTM dealer or www.ktm.com.

Words and Photos: KTM Press Service

This year’s annual New Zealand Trial Championships will be doing things by threes.

The championships will be held in Hawke’s Bay this coming Labour Weekend and will test riders at three different extreme venues over the three days.

In addition to that, the AdrenalinR Mufflers-sponsored contest will feature intriguing match-ups between a trio of separate three-rider groups that are each made up from three generations.

Paraparaumu’s John Lawton is the patriarch of the Lawton clan, with son Stuart Lawton and grand-son James also entered; Tauranga’s Nigel Shilton lines up this weekend alongside his son, Phillip Shilton, and his grandson, Cayden; and Hawke’s Bay fans of the sport will be thrilled to observe Hastings veteran Jeff March compete alongside son Luke March and grandson Ben.

Event organiser Warren Laugesen, himself a remarkable seven-time former winner of the premier title, said it shows that trials is “a great activity for all the family”.

“We are pretty excited to have a new minis class this year too. We want to encourage newcomers to the sport because this is a potential growth area. This is where we offer something for the next generation of riders coming through,” he said. “It would cater for riders aged up to 14 years and allows for electric and petrol-engine bikes. The courses laid out for the minis won’t be too daunting,” he added.

It will certainly be challenging for the senior riders, with tricky terrain set to feature steep rocks and treacherous creek beds. Laugesen said that two of the venues had never before been used for national-level trial events, so there may be a few surprises in store for the riders. The event runs from Saturday through until Monday and will test these elite riders over multiple laps on each of the three days – with each lap including a dozen difficult sections – and at three entirely different locations.

It is expected that Wellington youngster Dylan Ball will lead the charge to the top of the rankings in the premier Experts Grade class this year, although there are still plenty of contenders to watch out for, including Stuart Lawton, Taranaki’s Matt Foster and Christchurch’s Jules Huguenin.

The 15-year-old Ball has ridden internationally and he won the 2018 North Island champs in this top grade and also won the Junior Grade at the nationals last year. He has been knocking on the door for greater honours too over the past 12 months.

Other leading riders to watch for this weekend should include Dunedin’s father and son pair Gavin and Blake Fox, Christchurch’s Glenn Smith, Wellington’s Carl Robson, Ashhurst’s Kevin Pinfold, Hamilton’s Stephen Armistead, Northcote’s Ray Skinner, Hunterville’s Hannah Rushworth, Taranaki’s Daniel Herbert and Kaikoura’s David Trewin, to name a few.

Australian rider Kevin Zarcynski won the main trophy last year, but he will not be back to defend the title this time around.

Motorcycling New Zealand trial commissioner Paul Jackson said the sport was looking healthy and there are “a few things we are working on to see it pick up some more”.

“The minis and juniors is where it’s at … and it will be good to see if we can get these young ones hooked into the sport,” he said.

In addition to the Experts and Minis Grades, the competition this weekend includes A Grade, Intermediate, Presidents, Sportsman, Clubman, Twin Shock, Women’s and Junior grades in the programme.

Run by the Hawke’s Bay Motorcycle Club, day one of this event is set for Tongoio, north of Eskdale, on Saturday (October 26), with day two at Waitara Road, off the Napier-Taupo Road, and it all wraps up with day three at Dartmoor on Labour Day Monday.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

Paraparaumu’s Stuart Lawton, leading a three-pronged title attack on behalf of his family this weekend.