It is anybody’s series to win now after the weekend’s third round of four in this year’s inaugural NZ Xtreme Off-road Championship series in Hawke’s Bay.
The series continues to grow momentum after the Motorcycling New Zealand-sanctioned series registered its third different winner in as many events, with Glen Eden’s Chris Birch (KTM 300 EXC) prevailing on this occasion, and this means it’s anybody’s guess as to who might eventually win the main trophy.
Hamilton’s Phil Singleton (Husqvarna FE350) had won the series opener at Whangamata, in August, while round two, in the Akatarawa Forest, near Wellington, in September was won by Wainuiomata’s Jake Whitaker (KTM EXC300). Whitaker ended the day at round two in the Akatarawa Forest finishing more than two minutes ahead of runner-up rider Dylan Yearbury (Husqvarna FX350), from Cambridge, while Singleton had to settle for third overall and Birch was a no-show.
Singleton and Whitaker were certainly expected to come out swinging at the two-day Hawke’s Bay event, billed as the “Over The Top” enduro and organised by multi-time New Zealand moto trials champion Warren Laugesen, but there would have been no raised eyebrows when it was Birch who instead posted the winning result, despite this being his first appearance in the series.
Kiwi international Birch is a multi-time New Zealand enduro champion and certainly no stranger to winning at the top level.
It was Yearbury who was again overall runner-up in the weekend’s two-day event – a prologue near Taradale on Saturday, followed by the enduro at Tutira on Sunday.
Napier’s Mackenzie Wiig (KTM 300 EXC) won the prologue, ahead of Birch and then Helensville’s Tom Buxton (KTM 350 EXC-F), but it was Sunday’s main race that earned all the glory.
Yearbury finished more than 12 minutes behind Birch after four-and-a-half hours of grueling riding on Sunday, but, because he had skipped round one, Yearbury has to settle for third overall in the series standings after three rounds.
Singleton continues to lead the series standings in the Gold Grade, ahead of Auckland’s Mitchell Gallagher (KTM 250 EXC) and then Yearbury.
Cambridge’s Beau Taylor leads the Silver Grade points standings, ahead of Auckland’s David Steen and Whangarei’s Wayne Cox, while Tauranga’s Matt Reece tops the Bronze Grade standings, ahead of Whitianga’s James Kerr and Hastings rider Brett Gunson.

The series will wrap up with round four at Oxford, near Christchurch, on November 16-17.
Only three of the four rounds of the NZ Xtreme Off-road Championship are to be counted, with riders to discard their one worst score from the three North Island rounds, while double points are offered for the final round in the South Island, making it still possible for any one of half a dozen riders to win the series outright.

The 2018 NZ Xtreme Off-Road Championship calendar:
Round one: August 25, Taungatara Forest, Whangamata.
Round two: September 23, Moonshine Extreme, Bulls Run Rd, Porirua.
Round three: November 3-4, Over The Top, Hawke’s Bay.
Round four: November 16-17, Nut Buster, Oxford, Christchurch.

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan

 

Only the bravest dared to enter and only a few survived to finish, but that was perhaps to be expected from an event called the Husqvarna Hard Adventure Enduro.

This year’s third annual running of the extreme motorcycle event was again a brutal affair and the similarities didn’t end there either, with the same hard-as-nails rider who won it last season winning it outright again – Cambridge diesel mechanic Dylan Yearbury (Husqvarna TE300).

This “last man standing” affair, in untamed forestry land between Tokoroa and Taupo, offered up plenty of drama and the 23-year-old Yearbury was not immune to misfortune, which made it even more surprising that he could celebrate back-to-back wins in this stern two-and-a-half-day test of man and machine.

The event kicked off on Friday afternoon with a “prologue”, a series of sprints over man-made obstacles, including tractor tyres, concrete pipes, metal skip bins, a narrow beam “tightrope” and wooden ramps, with a few sharp-edged boulders thrown in for good measure.

Results here determined the starting order for the following two days of forest riding.

The event was designed to be tormenting, offering up tracks with varying degrees of difficulty, depending on whether a rider was graded as Gold, Silver or Bronze calibre.

Riders navigated the course using a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) device mounted on their handlebars and even that didn’t prevent some riders getting a little lost at times.

“I can’t believe I won again, after the series of misfortunate events I suffered this year,” said Yearbury. “I lost my front brake when a nut came loose and the brake fluid escaped. Fellow racer Chris Birch (from Glen Eden) stopped to help me fill the cylinder back up with water, as a stop-gap measure, and then bleed the brakes, and that got me to the end of the day, when I could replace the oil. The next day (Sunday) the bike simply stopped because I had gotten dirt in the fuel filter. I cleaned it out and I was away again, but I had lost a lot of time. Then I got barbed wire wrapped around my rear wheel and this time (another fellow competitor) Tony Parker stopped to help me.”

Twice more Yearbury was lucky to receive assistance from his rivals – Wainuiomata’s Jake Whitaker helping him scale a huge log and Helensville’s Tom Buxton assisting him on a hill climb – these actions epitomising the camaraderie that exists between these battle-hardened dirt bike riders.

“We all want to win, but we’re all mates too.”

Overall runner-up to Yearbury was Whitaker – who remarkably finished just 49 seconds behind after more than 12 hours of riding – followed by Buxton, with New Plymouth man Parker and Hamilton’s Phil Singleton rounding out the top five. Best of the Silver-graded riders was Cambridge’s Beau Taylor, while Whitecliffs’ Cody Corson topped the Bronze rider list.

“There was a massive variety of terrain that we covered, from mud, rocks, forest streams, steep hills, log cut-overs and bits of road … it had everything,” said Yearbury. “It was to be expected though … it’s in the name of the event, ‘hard’ and ‘adventure’ and it was both of those things and I’m feeling pretty sore and worn out right now.”

 

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan

A safe and sensible approach proved to be a winning strategy for Kayne Lamont at the weekend’s big annual MX Fest motocross extravaganza in Taupo.

The Hamilton-based former Mangakino man certainly enjoyed revisiting his home turf on Sunday, taking his Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team YZ450F bike to win the premier MX1 class overall and he also won the series of “knock-out” feature races that wrapped up the two-day spectacular.

The event was again sponsored by Taupo bike dealership Huka Honda, but the Yamaha men decided it would be great to crash this party and, with three Bay of Plenty riders to wave their blue flag, their appearance was certainly appreciated by the noisy local crowd.

Boisterous fans screamed their support as Lamont and fellow Yamaha ace Rhys Carter, from Mount Maunganui, fought for MX1 class honours, sharing the wins in the early part of Sunday’s programme.

Carter (Yamalube Yamaha YZ450F) then won the first two of five quick-fire sprint races that made up the last-man-standing feature of the weekend, but struck a dirt bank, crashed and was eliminated in sprint race number three, although this was still enough for him to claim overall runner-up in the MX1 class.

Meanwhile, Lamont came on strong in the latter races, winning the final sprint race ahead of Tauranga’s Ben Townley and Taupo’s Cohen Chase to claim both the MX1 class overall and the feature series overall as well.

In the MX2 (250cc) class, it was Maximum Purvis, another Mangakino man on another Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team bike, who stole the glory. Purvis finished 2-7-1-4 in his outings to edge out Taupo’s Wyatt Chase by a solitary point in the battle for MX2 glory. Chase’s 1-5-2-6 score-card gave him the runner-up position overall, ahead of fellow Taupo man Brad Groombridge, who registered 11-2-3-7 results.

“Not a bad day for us… from Max I expected this, but Kayne not so much because he’s not fully fit yet,” said Lamont’s boss, Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team manager Josh Coppins. “It’s the smartest I’ve seen Kayne ride. He was patient when he needed to be and pushed when he needed to. He never took any risks. Max should have been leading his class after moto two but he made a rookie mistake while leading and threw the bike away. There’s a lot for me to think about on the drive home from here, but I’m really happy with the start we have made to the season. I am happy from Rhys Carter’s point of view too. He was match fit after his recent racing overseas but he’s got some work to do in some areas and I’ve already spoken to him about those. Overall, I’m pretty happy where Yamaha is at.”

In other results, Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly won the 125cc class; Rotorua’s Cam Negus won the veterans’ 35-44 years’ class; Hamilton’s Darryll King won the veterans’ over-45 years’ class and Taupo’s Jake Tomblin won the Vintage MX class.

Class winners in Saturday’s action were Dunedin’s Grason Veitch (junior 14-16 years’ 250cc class); Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly (junior 15-16 years’ 125cc class); Tauranga’s Madoc Dixon (junior 12-14 years’ 125cc class); Rangiora’s Cobie Bourke (junior 12-16 years’ 85cc class); Waitoki’s Cole Davies (junior 8-11 years’ 85cc class); Auckland’s Jack Ellingham (junior 8-11 years’ Pro 65cc class) and Nelson’s Roma Edwards (women’s class).

The Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing team is supported by Altherm Window Systems, Yamaha Motor New Zealand, JCR, CRC, Ados, GYTR, Yamalube, bLU cRU, Fox Racing, YMI, YMF, Twin Air, Hollands Collision Centre, Star Moving, Ward Demolition, Pirelli, Akrapovic, DID, NGK, Renthal, Motomuck, www.workshopgraphics.co.nz, Motoseat, SKF, Vertex Pistons, Rtech Plastics and Etnies.

 

Words and photo by Andy McGechan

 

The two Altherm JCR Yamaha riders, Kayne Lamont and Maximus Purvis are looking forward to kicking their 2018/2019 New Zealand motocross season off this weekend at the 2018 Huka Honda MX Fest. Held near their hometown of Mangakino, on Taupo’s pumice and sand Digger McEwen Motorcycle Park circuit, the event will host up to 480 riders over the two days and will attract thousands of spectators.

Lamont, who won the premier MX1 class here last year, will make his race debut on his 2019 Yamaha YZ450 and Purvis is stepping up to the MX2 category for the full season on his new 2019 Yamaha YZ250F. They will be among New Zealand’s major riders and race teams and will race on Sunday, while Saturday will see JCR Altherm Yamaha supporting the brand’s customers with demonstrator bikes.

Altherm JCR Yamaha’s Team Manager Josh Coppins is confident both riders are well prepared to succeed at the 33rd running of this event, hosted by one of the strongest motocross clubs in New Zealand.

“We had a test there last weekend and both riders are happy with their race bikes and happy with their riding. It’s going to be good to see them up against the other brands and see where we are at. I’m expecting some decent results. Definitely some moto wins from both of them. I’d be surprised if we didn’t get any of them,” Coppins says.

Lamont (25) is nearly back to full form, after a wrist ligament injury sustained while he was competing in the Australian Motocross Championships meant he spent three months off the bike.

“I’ve been working on my off-the-bike programme, building up strength in the gym. The aim is to be 100 percent by Christmas, so this weekend will be a good guide to see where I’m at against the top guys,” he says.

Working as a building apprentice in Hamilton, Lamont has a very understanding boss, who has agreed to give him January to March off, so he can mount a focused, all-out assault on the MX1 title over the four-round New Zealand Motocross Championships.

Purvis has had an impressive overseas season, making his debut in the 10-round Australian nationals, where he came away with third in the under-19 category. The up-and-coming 18-year-old augments his motocross training with wielding a chainsaw on a daily basis, as he cuts for firewood for a job. His goals for his 2018/19 MX2 campaign are simple.

“Just stay consistent and try to get on the box every round,” Purvis says.

Coppins is looking forward to the season ahead, which will see the Altherm JCR Yamaha team race in three stand-alone events, plus the national championship from early February to mid-March.

“Taupo will host the final round of the nationals, so it’s important for the boys to get a good feel for the track early in the season. MX Fest is really a bit of a shakedown event for us to see where we are at and see where the bikes are at. We have another test scheduled for next weekend, to improve on this weekend,” Coppins says.

Altherm JCR Yamaha 2018/2019 calendar

20th & 21st October 2018 Taupo MX Fest
29th & 30th December 2018 Whakatane SummerX
26th & 27th January 2019 Woodville Grand Prix

2019 MNZ MX National Championship

Round 1 – Sunday 3rd February – Taranaki
Round 2 – Sunday 17th February – Rotorua
Round 3 – Sunday 24th February – Pukekohe
Round 4 – Sunday 10th March – Taupo

Altherm JCR Yamaha would like to thank their sponsors: Altherm Window Systems, JCR, Yamaha Motor New Zealand, Yamalube, GYTR, bLUcRU, Akrapovic, Ward Demolition, Star Moving, Holland Collision Centre, Workshop Graphics, Fox, YMI, YMF, Pirelli, Twin Air, DID, Renthal, Motomuck, Vertex, Motoseat & SKF.

 

Altherm JCR Yamaha rider Kayne Lamont (MX1) with his 2019 Yamaha YZ450

Altherm JCR Yamaha rider Maximus Purvis (MX2) with his 2019 Yamaha YZ250F

The 2018 New Zealand ATV (all terrain vehicle) Motocross Championships are to be held at Backflips Dirt Farm track on Chisholm Road at Pleasant Point, near Timaru, on Saturday and Sunday (October 20-21), with high-intensity four-wheeled bike racing guaranteed on the testing terrain.

Run by the Canterbury ATV Association and sponsored by ACM Motorhomes, the two-day spectacle will feature racing in eight separate categories, including classes for women, juniors and mini riders. The event is being held in conjunction with the New Zealand ATV Speedway Champs at Seafield Road in Ashburton on Labour Weekend Monday, that separate event sponsored by AS Taylor Builder Limited.

Several top South Island riders are expected to be among the leading title contenders this long weekend, not least of all 48-year-old multi-time national champion Ian Ffitch. Christchurch man Ffitch will be keen to rekindle his long rivalry with Taranaki brothers Camo and Scott Keegan, these three riders between them dominating the sport over the past few years. The national champion in 2014, Ffitch had been favoured to win again when the Nationals were held in Taranaki in 2015, until bad luck intervened – with Ffitch suffering a succession of mechanical problems – and the Keegan siblings from Taranaki came on strong, leaving the Canterbury man to settle for an uncharacteristic eighth overall. Ffitch’s mood contrasted sharply with that of the Taranaki camp, where champagne corks were popping as Scott Keegan tasted national championship victory for the first time and his elder brother Camo claimed the No.2 spot overall.

Roles were reversed when the ATV nationals were held at Amberley, north of Christchurch, in 2016, with Camo on that occasion taking the title.

The event was again held in Taranaki last year and this time it was Camo Keegan who again prevailed, although Ffitch also bounced back to claim the No.2 position overall. It will be hard to look too far beyond Ffitch or the two Keegan brothers for likely winners this coming weekend, although Otorohanga’s Shane Robinson and Egmont Village rider Corey Whitelock have been impressive lately and both these riders could be a threat, while Christchurch’s Callum Macrae, the No.3 rider in the premier grade last year, could also be fancied.

Other riders to watch for this weekend include Nelson’s Jack White, 16-year-old Amberley rider Angus Parish and Christchurch foursome Taylor and Greg Graham and George and Gary Doig. Expect also to see Christchurch’s Abby Holliday, Christchurch’s Lori Graham, Stratford’s Nicola Reid and Otorohanga’s Amy Corston to be among those battling for the women’s title.

“I think the competition in all grades will be as hotly-contested as ever. It’ll be a pretty special event,” said Ffitch, the host Canterbury ATV Association president. “I’m in with a sniff of winning (the premier trophy), but it’s great to watch as these younger riders develop and mature too and any of these riders could be title contenders.”

In addition to sponsorship from ACM Motorhomes, the ATV nationals are supported by Duckmanton AG Limited and Ffitch Racing.

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