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.

The golden season just keeps on going for Whanganui enduro and cross-country ace Seth Reardon.

The 21-year-old boat-builder wrapped up his maiden New Zealand Enduro Championships title in July, as well as finishing runner-up in the New Zealand Cross-Country Championships that wrapped up near Taupo in May, and now he’s just added the North Island Enduro Championships title as well, his latest outright win without him even being in attendance for the final race.

Reardon (Yamaha YZ250FX) is currently overseas, preparing for his debut in the Grand National Cross-Country Championships (GNCC) in the United States, and so was unable to contest the sixth and final round of the North Island enduro competition near Masterton at the weekend.

But that didn’t matter because Reardon had already won the premier expert grade trophy with a round to spare.

He eventually won the North Island series by three points from fellow Yamaha ace Josh Hunger, of Stratford, with Cambridge’s Beau Taylor (Husqvarna TE250) claiming the third podium spot.

His American adventure is already underway – the intrepid Kiwi contesting the final two rounds of the GNCC series in West Virginia and then Indiana.

His campaign in the US may perhaps pave the way for him to follow in the wheel-tracks of fellow Kiwi Paul Whibley. Taikorea’s Whibley twice won the GNCC title in the US, in 2009 and again in 2012 and he was a record six-time winner of the parallel Off-Road Motorcycle and ATV (OMA) series in the US as well.

If Reardon can impress during his abbreviated US campaign this month, it is possible that he could earn a placement on a professional team there for the 2020 season.

His first race, in West Virginia at the weekend, did not quite go to plan with him finishing only 15th overall in the XC2 (250) class after he completed just two laps of the race (while fellow Kiwis Dylan Yearbury, of Cambridge, and Liam Draper, of Howick, finished the day 5th and 13th overall respectively in the same class).

“I had a good start going into the trees. Then, about halfway through the first lap, I went over the handlebars and landed right onto some huge rocks, spraining my wrist and bending my front disc, causing me to lose most of my front brakes,” Reardon explained. “We swapped wheels and I tried to go out for another lap, but it was too rough on the wrist. I had to get an X-ray and luckily it’s not broken.”

Reardon remains optimistic for his racing at the final round in Indiana on October 27.

“I am just going to carry on and train hard for the next round,” he said.

Meanwhile, Reardon also currently leads the New Zealand version of the GNCC after finishing runner-up and then first at the two rounds run thus far, in the Woodhill Forest in July and at Taikorea, near Palmerston North, last month.

He plans to return to New Zealand in time for round three, set for Matata on November 9.

Reardon is supported by Yamaha-Motor New Zealand, BluCru Yamaha NZ, JCR, PWR, Yamalube, JW Seatcovers, 24/7 Beancounter, W&W Construction, Axiam, Qwest, Boss Engineering, Possum Flooring, Swartz Tyres, Edmonds Painting, Masterbuilt, Pulse Performance, Ryan Construction, Hiremaster, Jurgens Demolition, Action Drainage & Construction, Attrill Agriculture, Tyre Shield, Monahans Barbers and the Higgie family.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

The trophy engravers will be working overtime after the 2019 edition of the New Zealand Mini Motocross Nationals in Hawke’s Bay at the weekend.

And the jewellers may as well get templates made for the recipients too, as they’ll no doubt be etching some of these same names into silverware again in the near future.

Talent certainly abounded at the Ngaruroro Raceway, at Mere Road in Fernhill, on the outskirts of Hastings, for this year’s two-day Un4Seen Decals-sponsored event – for riders aged between four and 11 years and riding bikes with engine capacities anywhere between 50cc and 112cc.

With an impressively-large entry list and intense racing at the weekend, it showed the sport in a positive light and showed it was extremely healthy at this grassroots level.

Cambridge rider William Pluck raced away with the premier trophy as he won the 9-11 years’ 65cc class, finishing the weekend 10 points clear of runner-up rider Rafe Paewai,

Pahiatua youngster Paewai actually won more races than Pluck – clinching three of five wins in this class – but, unfortunately, he also failed to finish one race and this cost him dearly.

Meanwhile, it was a fourth consecutive national mini motocross title win for Pluck, who had previously won the 7-11 years’ small trail bike class in both 2017 and 2018 and he had also won the 6-8 years’ 50cc intro trail bike class in 2016.

New Plymouth’s Travis Taylor finished third outright in 7-8 years’ 65cc class last season, but he stepped up a grade this year and ended up on the podium again, once more finishing third, just 10 points behind Paewai in the 9-11 years’ 65cc class.

Perhaps the most impressive performance of the weekend came from Tauranga’s Arama Te Whetu in the 7-8 years’ 65cc class.

Fourth overall in this same class last year, Te Whetu simply owned the race track this time around, finishing the weekend unbeaten in all five races, the only individual at the event to record a clean sweep of victories.

Runner-up to Te Whetu was Invercargill’s Ryan Keen, while Carterton’s Maddox Swanson, who won the 6-8 years’ 50cc class in 2018, settled for third overall in this 7-8 years’ 65cc class this year.

There was another rider besides Pluck who managed to make it consecutive title wins too – Christchurch’s Levi McMaster won the 4-7 years’ 50cc class last year and this time around he won four out of five races to end top of the 6-8 years’ 50cc class, comfortably edging out Gisborne’s Jaxon Pardoe and Greytown’s Jack Bennett.

Motorcycling New Zealand’s mini and junior motocross co-ordinator Michelle Davies said the host Hawke’s Bay Motorcycle Club “did a tremendous job”.

“With the way the weather played out, the riders actually had two entirely different tracks to deal with over the weekend,” she said. “On Saturday it was 20 degrees Celsius and the track was hard-packed and a little dusty. It rained overnight and on Sunday it was 13 degrees and the track was damp but perfect. It provided an extra challenge for the riders to learn how to adapt to changing conditions.

“Arama Te Whetu’s unbeaten performance at the weekend was the obvious stand-out, but special mention should also be made of Whangarei’s Hannah Perris, who finished fourth overall against the boys in the 7-8 years’ 65cc class.”

Perris finished just two points off claiming a podium position in her class.

The Central Otago Motorcycle Club, near Queenstown, will host the New Zealand Mini Motocross Nationals next year.

Final leading overall standings in the 2019 NZ Mini Motocross Nationals in Hawke’s Bay:

9-11 years’ 65cc class: 1. William Pluck (Cambridge); 2. Rafe Paweai (Pahiatua); 3. Travis Taylor (New Plymouth).
7-8 years’ 65cc class: 1. Arama Te Whetu (Tauranga); 2. Ryan Keen (Invercargill); 3. Maddox Swanson (Carterton)
6-8 years’ 50cc class: 1. Levi McMaster (Christchurch); 2. Jaxon Pardoe (Gisborne); 3. Jack Bennett (Greytown).
4-7 years’ 50cc class: 1. Rhys Perris (Whangarei); 2. Brody Sparrow (Pahiatua); 3. Van Hazelden (Cambridge).
8-11 years’ trail bike class: 1. Zoe Verhoeven (Cambridge); 2. Troy Downs (Te Awamutu); 3. Riley Westgate (Matamata).
7-9 years’ trail bike class: 1. Jack Hazelden (Cambridge); 2. Harry Pluck (Cambridge); 3. Reeve Lee (Taupo).
4-7 years’ 50cc intro class: 1. Jacob Wilson (Christchurch); 2. Charles Cox (Napier); 3. Atawhai Wirepa-Hei (Gisborne).

Cambridge rider William Pluck, comfortable winner of the premier grade at the mini motocross nationals in Hawke’s Bay at the weekend.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan