When the going gets tough, the tough get going… probably straight to the top of the podium in the NZ Extreme Off-Road Championship series.
This year’s second annual edition of the four-round Yamaha-sponsored hard enduro competition kicks off in the Taungatara Forest, not far from Whangamata, this Saturday (September 7), with rounds to follow at Moonshine, off Bulls Run Road, near Porirua on September 22 and a two-dayer in Hawke’s Bay (at Taradale on day one and at Tutira on day two) on November 2-3.
Just as it did for last year’s inaugural series, the competition will again wrap up with another double-header weekend, at the Nut Buster hard enduro at Oxford, near Christchurch, on November 15-16.
Only the bold, brave and superbly talented should expect to win an event as tough as this, but that should not deter any accomplished dirt bike rider from giving it a crack.
Only three of the four rounds of the NZ Extreme Off-road Championship are to be counted, with riders discarding their one worst score from the three North Island rounds, while double points are offered for the Nut Buster final round in the South Island.
Cambridge’s Dylan Yearbury won the inaugural the NZ Extreme Off-Road Championship series last season and he will certainly be one rider to look out for, his credentials undeniable, but so too is the curriculum vitae presented by record eight-time former national moto trials champion-turned-enduro rider Jake Whitaker, of Wainuiomata, and just-crowned national enduro champion Seth Reardon, of Whanganui.
Other leading riders such as Canterbury brothers Angus and Hamish Macdonald, Tokoroa’s Sean Clarke, Thames rider Chris Birch, Titirangi’s Callan May, Hamilton’s Phil Singleton, Helensville’s Tom Buxton, Tokoroa’s Jake Wightman, Oamaru’s Bradley Simpson and Napier’s Mackenzie Wiig, to name a few, could also be expected to threaten for the main trophy this year.
“The aim of the Extreme Off-Road Championship is to provide events that will be designed using the available terrain to be extremely challenging for the riders and an ultimate test of the riders’ ability and skills,” said Motorcycling New Zealand enduro commissioner Justin Stevenson.
He said the events would be “a little tougher than a normal national enduro, but not impossible. Most riders know what they’re up for and Kiwi riders seem to crave the extra challenge. The skill levels of riders are increasing these days, which is a good thing, and I think that’s a worldwide trend. The events are getting tougher and tougher and the riders are getting better and better.”
He said there would be bronze, silver and gold level courses set for the riders, to cater for all the various skill levels.
The 2019 Yamaha NZ Extreme Off-Road Championships are supported by Mitas tyres, Macaulay Metals, Best Build Construction, Silver-bullet, Kiwi Rider magazine, Dirt Rider Downunder magazine, Moto Events NZ and NZ Car Parts (Auckland).
The 2019 NZ Extreme Off-Road Championship calendar:
Round one: September 7, Taungatara Forest, Whangamata.
Round two: September 22, Moonshine Extreme, Bulls Run Rd, Porirua.
Round three: November 2-3, Over The Top, Hawke’s Bay.
Round four: November 15-16, Nut Buster, Oxford, Christchurch.
Words and Photo by Andy McGechan