Scheduled for the 29th to the 31st of March, 2019, registrations are open once again for the Tussock Buster, held in the massive expanse of Waiouru’s Military training area. Utilising about half of the 63,000 hectares, with almost 300km of marked riding trails, most of which are bulldozed and graded annually by the Offlimits team. Suitable for all ages and all levels of rider ability, the Tussock Buster is the largest trail ride event in Australasia and is regarded by many as being the best event of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Each event is different, meaning a wholely new experience for riders year to year. You really have to attend to see how different it is to other events!

There are tracks for all levels of competency, with designated kids tracks for bikes under 85cc. There are also a number of short trails ranging from 10 to 35 kilometres in length. These are rideable on bikes 85c and larger. Approximately 90% of the trails are graded as ‘easy’, with about 10% which are regarded as being a steep up or downhill. These would be easily navigated by intermediate or expert riders, but would be difficult for novice or younger riders. The organisers kindly ask riders to be observant of the signs posted for the more difficult loops – your fuel tank capacity might not be sufficient!

Parents are asked to accompany all young children on the open tracks and assist them when they encounter difficulty. The longer tracks can be over 75 kilometres in length and are not technically difficult (apart from the signposted ‘expert only’ trails) but they do go to higher altitudes.

Camping is provided on Friday and Saturday nights for approximately 900 people by the Waiouru Rugby/sports fields, including hot showers, portaloos, and the rugby club bar. Hot meals are available from the Waiouru community shop on site.

Tussock Buster is a two-wheeled only event, and fire extinguishers are compulsory for all riders over the age of 12-years. (The Honda service tents will have 0.3kg fire extinguishers available for purchase at the event should you forget!) No open fires are permitted in the campsite.

The organisers will have a tanker based refuel station in the training area for bikes to complete the longer loops. Using a token system for fuel has worked well in the past, so will be implemented again this year.

Prices vary depending on how early you register, and registrations will be available on the day, but if you are keen you need to get in quick to secure a great discount on entry fees.

Being a Military training ground, the event may be rescheduled or cancelled due to any weather or fire risk, or for military requirements.

For more information and to register, check the Tussock Buster website: https://www.offlimits.co.nz/project/tussock-buster/
or our own MotoEvents page: http://motoevents.nz/tussock-buster-2019/

Online pre-registrations will close at 8pm on Tuesday the 19th of March.

The Red Bull KTM star, who won 17 from 19 Grands Prix in 2018, suffered the injury Friday afternoon while training at the Albaida circuit in southern Spain. Herlings immediately flew back to Belgium that day and underwent a procedure with renowned surgeon Dr Claes to fix fractures in his right foot. Thankfully the 24 year old did not sustain damage to his ankle and the whole operation took place swiftly and with success.

Herlings had planned to race the Hawkstone Park International in the UK on February 16th but will now focus entirely on his rehab. He will change his cast next week and is scheduled for a consultation with medical staff in six weeks to determine the full extent of the recovery time, making his participation in the opening round of the FIM Motocross World Championship in Argentina on March 3rd unlikely.

Jeffrey Herlings“I landed strangely from a jump and was at an angle when I went too close to the track ‘wall’ of dirt at Albaida. I got my foot caught between the bike and the mud. I knew we were in trouble, and we had the operation as soon as possible when we saw the foot was starting to swell. This is obviously not the best way to start 2019 but we’d been riding and preparing well and we have to work now to get back to that level. The good news is that Dr Claes and his team were really happy with how the operation went and I don’t have any more pain or swelling. In six weeks time we’ll know more and it all depends how the bone heals. Thanks for all the messages from the fans. We’ll be back strong!”

Dirk Gruebel, MX2 Team Manager & Technical Co-Ordinator, Red Bull KTM“This is obviously a disappointing situation for Jeffrey and the team and also for fans of MXGP because we all want to see the guys fit, healthy and ready to go for a new season. It is a shame the way the crash happened and if it hadn’t been for that part of the track then maybe he would have escaped without a problem. Jeffrey had some first class treatment by Dr Claes in Belgium to fix the breaks in what is a tricky part of the body for injury. Everything went well though and there is nothing wrong with his ankle or anything else that could have made the injury more serious. Now he’ll look to recover again and come back to MXGP close to the form we saw in 2018.”

MXGP World Champion Jeffrey Herlings is hoping for a swift and comprehensive rehabilitation period after surgery last Friday evening to repair a broken right foot.

There’s a fresh name that should probably leap off the pages when spectators peruse the programme at the New Zealand Motocross Championships this weekend.

Yamaha YZ125 rider Jack Dunlop has been making a bit of a name for himself in recent weeks and must now surely rate as a podium contender in the senior 125cc class on Sunday.

The 15-year-old from Pukekawa, near Mercer, with support from Whangarei Yamaha, finished runner-up to Kiwi international Brodie Connolly (Husqvarna), from Tauranga, in the junior 15-16 years’ 125cc class at the annual Whakatane Summercross just after Christmas and then he finished fifth overall against the seniors the following day.

Just last weekend he stepped it up another notch, this time winning the junior 15-16 years’ 125cc class at New Zealand’s largest stand-alone motocross event, the New Zealand Grand Prix at Woodville, taking the trophy ahead of another couple of rising young stars, Whanganui’s James Rountree (Yamaha YZ125) and Palmerston North’s Luka Freemantle (KTM 125).

This weekend it gets really serious as he tackles the first round of four in the senior New Zealand Motocross Championships near New Plymouth.

“That was really my first big win,” said Dunlop, a year 12 pupil at Hamilton Boys’ High School.

“I usually get on or near the podium, but I got a bit lucky today with some of the other riders having problems,” he said modestly.

Dunlop finished with a 2-1-2 score-card at Woodville on Saturday.

“I just try to stay consistent and smooth. I have been doing a lot of training lately, but mostly I just ride around at home. My dad (Craig) used to race at the top level and he’s been giving me good tips. I’m riding the senior national 125cc class this coming weekend, the first time I’ve been old enough to compete in this competition. Hopefully I can achieve a top-three result, on the podium, but I’m expecting tough competition from Brodie (Connolly) again, and James (Rountree) and Rotorua’s Josh Bourke-Palmer (Yamaha), and Wairoa’s Tommy Watts (Yamaha) too.”

It may have slipped his mind, but current national MX2 (250cc) champion Hamish Harwood, from Royal Heights, is also entered in the 125cc class this season and he’ll also be a title threat.

After this weekend, there will be just a short two-week break before round two of the nationals, set for Rotorua on February 17, followed by round three at Pukekohe on February 24 and, finally, the nationals wrap up at Taupo on March 10. 

Dunlop is supported by Whangarei Yamaha, bLUcRU, Harvey Round Motors, Izusu, Crown Kiwi, Alpinestars.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

Pukekawa’s Jack Dunlop (Yamaha YZ125 No.28), seen here leading Whanganui’s fellow Yamaha star James Rountree, the pair demanding their fair share of the spotlight.

The pre-season strutting is over and now the real fight for national motocross glory is set to begin.

Warm-up events around the country have ensured that preparations are now complete for the start of the four-round Fox-sponsored New Zealand Motocross Championships, set to kick off at Taranaki’s popular Barrett Road Motorcycle Park facility, on the outskirts of New Plymouth, on Sunday, and all that has preceded this weekend is perhaps for bragging rights only.

Kirk Gibbs, from Australia, is keen to defend his New Zealand MX1 crown this season, although the 29-year-old rider from the Gold Coast knows it won’t be easy as he lines up alongside an on-form Cody Cooper.

The six-time former New Zealand MX1 champion from Mount Maunganui finished runner-up to Gibbs last season, but, after winning the MX1 class at the annual Whakatane Summercross just after Christmas and then dominating again at last weekend’s Woodville spectacular, Cooper probably feels confident he’s got the pace to snatch the title back from Gibbs.

However, everyone starts with a clean slate in Taranaki on Sunday and riders such as Taupo’s Cohen Chase, Hamilton’s Kayne Lamont and Reporoa’s Hadleigh Knight, to name a few, should not be overlooked as MX1 title contenders either.

“Cody Cooper is riding awesome at the moment, but I expected that from him,” said Gibbs this week. “I certainly don’t expect him to roll over. Before Woodville, I had not really raced since representing Australia at the Motocross of Nations event in the United States in October, so I have not had a lot of time on the bike and the conditions at Woodville meant it was really just a matter of survival and getting through that event uninjured. Hopefully I will be able to turn it on in Taranaki. I finished the day tied with Cooper at round one in Taranaki last year and I think I’ll do well there again this Sunday.”

West Aucklander Hamish Harwood will be aiming to make it a fourth consecutive MX2 (250cc) class title win this season and, always a glutton for punishment, he will also tackle the 125cc class this year.

The defending MX2 champion from Royal Heights will likely face stiff opposition in the mid-sized bike class from the likes of Taupo’s national No.2 in the class, Brad Groombridge, Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis, Taupo’s Wyatt Chase, Tauranga’s Micah McGoldrick and visiting current Australian MX2 champion Wilson Todd.

Harwood could also be favoured in the 125cc class, especially after his dominant performance on the small bike at Woodville last weekend, but riders such as Ngatea’s 2016 national 125cc champion Ben Broad, Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly, Wairoa’s Tommy Watts and Rotorua’s Josh Bourke-Palmer should also be well-placed.

There will be just a short two-week break before round two of the nationals, set for Rotorua on February 17, followed by round three at Pukekohe on February 24 and, finally, the nationals wrap up at Taupo on March 10. 

Round one of the series is additionally supported by Mach 1 Yamaha, while Patterson O’Connor Motorcycles supports round two, Ebbett Pukekohe supports round three and Yamalube supports round four.

Credit: Words by Andy McGechan



There was much more to the weekend’s 58th annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville than met the eye.

In addition to its unrivalled status as New Zealand’s largest stand-alone motocross event, the Honda-sponsored two-day event was again this year  hosting the FIM Oceania Challenge Cup competition.

The Oceania battles see-sawed over the two days, with Australia’s squad ending the junior phase of racing on Saturday with a slender 2.5-point advantage.

This was mostly thanks to Australia’s Brad West winning all three of his Junior 14-16 years’ 250cc races, while New Zealand’s FIM Oceania representative, Whanganui’s James Rountree, finished runner-up each time. 

Weather conspired against the organisers on Sunday, with rain and gale-force winds causing havoc on the track, and a decision was made to scale back the day’s programme to just two races for each class.

In the end, the event’s main winner was Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper, the six-time former national MX1 champion winning both the premier MX1 races in Sunday’s abbreviated senior programme, earning him the prestigious Woodville crown, but, for the FIM Oceania Challenge Cup sub-plot, it was a slightly different story.

On both occasions the runner-up to Cooper in the MX1 class on Sunday was Gold Coast rider Kirk Gibbs, Australia’s MX1 class nominee for the FIM Oceania Challenge Cup battle-within-a-battle.

Cooper had earned 50 points from his two wins, while Gibbs – actually the current New Zealand MX1 champion – had a tally of 44 points for the weekend.

Australian Wilson Todd finished first and third in his two MX2 (senior 250cc) class races, while the Kiwi hopes for MX2 class ascendancy rested with Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis, who crossed the finish line fourth and then second.

The other class results in the head-to-head FIM Oceania exchange were something of a mixed bag, but, when the final tally was done, Australia had won the FIM Oceania Challenge Cup by a solitary point.

“It was really cool to win this and our juniors really pulled their weight,” said Australian MX1 star Gibbs. “Heading into the senior day, Australia was up in the points and then Wilson (Todd) did really well and I was consistent. It was really close and good to bring it home. We really enjoyed the banter with the Kiwis too.”

FIM Oceania results:

Australia:
Kirk Gibbs (MX1) 2-2;
Wilson Todd (MX2) 1-3;
Brad West (Jnr 250) 1-1-1;
Jason West (8-11 85cc) 4-7-9;
Hayley Ball (8-11 85cc) 32-DNS-27 and (8-11 65cc) 15-20-DNS;
Brooke Ball (65cc) 19-19-20.

New Zealand: 
Cody Cooper (Mt Maunganui, MX1) 1-1;
Maximus Purvis (Mangakino, MX2) 4-2;
James Rountree (Whanganui, Jnr 250) 2-2-2;
Cole Davies (Waitoki, 8-11 85cc) 1-0-1;
Breanna Rodgers (Tokoroa, 8-11 85cc) 23-20-18;
Ruby Piraka (Rolleston, 8-11 65cc) 22-22-18;
Karaitiana Horne (Raetihi, 8-11 65cc) 18-18-19.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan