Auckland’s Tom Buxton made it look far easier than it should have been as he dominated the third and final round of the popular New Zealand Grand National Cross-country Championships in the King Country at the weekend. The 20-year-old from Helensville took his 2019-model KTM 350 EXC bike to win the two-hour race at Waimiha on Saturday by nearly four minutes from Cambridge’s Dylan Yearbury and Titirangi’s Callan May. Buxton had finished third overall at the series opener at Matata in October, but won round two in the Riverhead Forest, west of Auckland, last month, and then his impressive follow-up win at Waimiha on Saturday confirmed his dominance and ensured that the series’ main trophy would go his way.

“I didn’t get the best jump off the start line … I got pushed around a bit at the start,” said Buxton, who works as a bull farmer. “The first corner funneled the riders in tight and I got blocked out, but it caused a few problems for lots of other riders too. I quickly made a few passes and was past about six riders within a few hundred metres and I was up to sixth position after about 300 metres. I put the hammer down and, as everyone in front of me made mistakes and slowed or crashed, I managed to work through and take the lead about 10 minutes into the race. I settled into a good pace and took it a little bit easy because it was very slippery under the bike’s wheels. After the first lap I knew where the track was taking us and that was it really. It’s mission accomplished for the GNCC series and now I can look ahead to tackling the 2019 New Zealand Enduro Championships. I have no plans yet to contest the New Zealand cross-country Championships … I don’t much like farmland racing and prefer the challenge of racing in forestry… so the enduro nationals will be my main focus in the New Year.”

May finished runner-up in the GNCC Series overall, with Yearbury, Drury’s Richard Sutton and Rotorua’s Ethan Harris rounding out the top five riders in the senior grade for this series. Taupo’s Wil Yeoman won the junior grade in the GNCC Series, with Tirau’s Alex Butler and Morrinsville’s Liam Calley completing the series podium. Buxton had been racing overseas for most of this season and not able to race much at home, making this series victory a fantastic way to herald his arrival back on the domestic scene. He had led the New Zealand Enduro Championships after winning the opening two rounds of that six-round series in April, but then decided to follow his dream and head to the renowned annual Romaniacs hard enduro event in Romania, abandoning the domestic racing scene at home.

“I was working as a track manager at the Romaniacs event, so I wasn’t racing there, but it was a great way to gain insight about the event. I hope one day to race the Romaniacs, but it is pretty brutal and I’m really in no rush to do it. I’m young. I’ve got time on my side.”

The KTM star will no doubt be among the favourites to win when the 2019 enduro nationals kick off early next year.

 

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan

 

Taikorea’s Paul Whibley may currently be injured and out of action, but his Yamaha NZXC Series will carry on regardless, the final round set for the King Country this Saturday.

The 40-year-old former NZXC Series winner, former New Zealand cross-country champion and a former two-time outright winner of the Grand National Cross-country Championships (GNCC) in the United States (in 2009 and 2012), Whibley has nothing left to prove on the race track, but that doesn’t mean he has been sitting idle.

The Manawatu man created the Yamaha NZXC Series four years ago, in June 2015, intended as “a competition to better-prepare rising Kiwi stars for a life of international race action” and his series is now regarded as one of the best off-road series in New Zealand.

“My intention was not to simply add more events to the calendar, but to use some events that were already there and combine them into something different,” said Whibley, “I’ve chosen the best of the bunch, piggy-backed onto them and called it the Yamaha NZXC series.”

Which explains why Saturday’s event at Waimiha doubles also as the final round of the parallel-but-separate New Zealand GNCC Series.

“I was looking at what younger guys need for when they venture overseas and some of the events in New Zealand were not really preparing them for what they’ll face,” said Whibley, “Racing over farmland is not really the same thing as riders will hit when they get to America or Europe. Forestry courses more accurately reflect what they will strike,”

This Saturday’s sixth and final round of the 2018 edition of the Yamaha NZXC Series is scheduled for the Pureora Forest, near Waimiha and Benneydale, a venue that should test even the most skilled and resilient of riders. Yamaha ace Callan May leads the series after the five rounds thus far, the electrician from Titirangi in impressive form and a massive 36 points ahead of Whanganui’s Seth Reardon (Yamaha YZ250FX) at the top of the Yamaha NZXC standings. The 26-year-old May took his Yamaha YZ250FX to win the first two rounds of the series, but he was then forced to settle for runner-up finishes, both times behind friend and rival Sam Greenslade at the two rounds that followed, at Woodhill Forest and Matata, in September and October respectively.

May was again runner-up at round five in November, this time behind Helensville’s Tom Buxton, but even that second-place performance could be classed as remarkable, with May having to charge through the entire field after a poor start, the race set in a damp a treacherous Riverhead Forest, west of Auckland.

Is will be that same style of strength and tenacity that should enable May to clinch the series’ main trophy this Saturday afternoon. The venue for this weekend’s finale is 741 Ongarue Stream Rd, Waimiha, with the 90-minute combined junior and mini bike race set to blast off at 9.30am, followed by the two-hour senior race at 12 noon.

The junior and mini track is six kilometres long, while the seniors are expected to conquer a 20-kilometre track.

Taupo’s Wil Yeoman (Yamaha YZ125) leads the junior grade by 29 points over Tirau’s Alex Butler after five of six rounds and so he too is well on target to win the junior trophy outright.

Whibley and the Yamaha NZXC Series are supported by Yamaha Motor New Zealand, PWR Yamaha, Arai, TCX, Oakley, G2, Asterisk, MotoSR, Vortex Ignitions, EC3D, Bush Riders MCC, Rosscos Start Up Services, Dirt Guide, Tire Balls, Renthal, BikesportNZ.com, CarbSport, FMF, Michelin, Yamalube CV4 GYTR, IMS, ONeal, Rekluse, Workshop Graphics and Motomuck.

 

Words and photo by Andy McGechan

 

In the true style and philosophy of READY TO RACE, KTM have decided to give their customers the opportunity to score themselves a mean KTM 450 Rally Replica. Almost identical to those ridden at Dakar, these machines are a must have for the Extreme Off-Road enthusiast.

The 450cc SOHC fuel-injection engine now provides increased engine power, thanks to a newly designed cylinder head, extended durability and an improved transmission that are complemented by a new engine management system, which includes a newly developed throttle body.

A new air filter box offers more room for the electrics and battery whilst also enhancing the centralisation of masses – a key point in the development of this new machine. The 2019 KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA enjoys a brand-new chassis, tested and developed with factory riders for the perils and style of Dakar we have seen in recent years, as it combines improved agility with enhanced stability for braking, whilst retaining the incredible straight-line stability that the KTM rally machines are renowned for.

 

A new swingarm in conjunction with a reworked linkage and shock absorber, along with WP XACT PRO 48mm closed cartridge suspension with sophisticated Cone Valve technology, provides improved traction when accelerating, as well as increased bottoming reserves. New bodywork utilises sophisticated aerodynamics to increase rider comfort while improving the visibility past the innovative carbon tower, which houses the navigational elements of the bike, to the front wheel.

A new, softer seat, revised fuel tanks, and new Akrapovič exhaust, which also contribute to mass centralisation and improved weight distribution, reiterate the design goal of a lightweight, agile, comfortable and stable bike.

Stefan Huber (KTM Factory Rally Team Leader): “The all-new KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA is based on our already-successful new factory machine that we began racing at the end of last year, which was specifically developed to win the Dakar. With the latest generation, our goal and focus was to develop a bike around the style of our current factory riders, who required something with more comfort, more agility and improved stability. We looked for an improvement in handling, a lower weight, as well as a bike that also meets the demands of the conditions and intensity that we now find at Dakar. The KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA machine is almost identical to those raced by our athletes, and is available for customers to get the opportunity to own and ride a really premium, purpose-developed rally machine with high-quality components and maximum innovation. It’s been truly revised from the ground up, and we are looking forward to seeing these bikes being raced by our customers.”

 

Selling at an impressive price of EUR 26,000 (NZ$45,800) these bikes may be for those with deep pockets and lots of time to spare!

After having her bikes stolen earlier this year, it could be assumed Rachael Archer would be very happy to receive some good news. It came in the form of a signing with the High-profile American AmPro Yamaha Race Team in the U.S.A.

“I raced a couple of GNCC events over there last year, then riding a 125cc bike, finishing seventh in the women’s grade at round one. I was running second at round two, but lost time refuelling my small fuel tank and ended up finishing the race fourth. “I think I settled in pretty quickly and got up to speed pretty quickly too. I’ll be on a 250cc bike now and I’m going faster now than I was then too, so the results might be even better,” commented Archer.

Te Awamutu’s Rachael Archer unstoppable on the Kiwi cross-country scene.
Photo by Andy McGechan, 

Rachael has signed on to ride a Yamaha YZ250FX in the States later this year and for the rest of 2019 after a recommendation by New Zealand’s own Paul Whibley who also raced for the American AmPro Yamaha Race Team.

Paul was also New Zealand cross-country champion for Yamaha in 2015. “I am pretty excited to see Randy (Hawkins) come on board with some support for Rachael,” said Whibley. “I’m thrilled to see her have her foot in the door in the US, but it’s icing on the cake that she’s now with Yamaha too. “She needs to go over for a couple of events this year, just to learn a few more of the US tracks, but also to learn how the new team operates. “She will be extremely competitive over there. She showed that during her first trip there last year. “She is one of the youngest competitors in the class, but she has the work ethic and drive and I know she can be a champion.”

Archer is supported by Yamaha Motor New Zealand, Paul Whibley Racing (PWR) Yamaha, Blackwood Yamaha, MotoSR suspension, Fox New Zealand, BikesportNZ.com, Workshop Graphics, Dr Trim and Tekmo carbon fibre.

We wish Rachael all the best and know she can achieve great results with the right support!

Photo courtesy of Andy McGechan.