It will be three fresh faces fronting up for New Zealand at the Motocross of Nations event at Assen, in The Netherlands, on September 28-29.
Taupo’s Wyatt Chase, Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis and British-based Canterbury rider Dylan Walsh will each be making their MXoN debuts when they wave the silver fern flag at the track built on the infield at the “Cathedral of Speed”, the TT track at Assen.
Chase confirms that he is certainly one man who is fizzing and he said he can’t wait to take on the world’s elite in The Netherlands. The Honda star said he is “thrilled and honoured” to be named to represent New Zealand at this year’s edition of the Motocross of Nations – commonly referred to as “The Olympic Games of Motocross” – and he simply can’t wait to repay the faith that has been shown in him by the selectors.
“It’s simply massive to race at this event. I’ve very excited. It’s an awesome opportunity that I’ve been given,” said the just-turned 20-year-old.
Hundreds of truck-loads of sand will be brought in to create the MXoN track on the infield on the Assen TT road-race circuit, giving the iconic event a unique twist and the energy-sapping sand will certainly sort the men from the boys. A crowd of about 80,000 is expected to flock to watch the racing at this most important event on the international calendar, and Chase knows the pressure to perform will be immense.
“It will be super gnarly at Assen and extremely challenging. But I have been putting in the work and hopefully I can get a good result for the team,” he said.
Chase will race his Honda CRF450 in the MXGP class, while Purvis will race a Yamaha YZ450F in the Open Class and Walsh (Husqvarna TC250) has the MX2 (250cc) class duties for Team New Zealand. Although all three riders are MXoN rookies, they each have plenty of international racing experience.
Purvis raced his way to overall runner-up in the MX Development (under-19) class in Australia earlier this year and Walsh has been racing the MX2 class on the Grand Prix scene in Europe. Chase raced several rounds of the European 125cc Championships in 2016, in the United Kingdom, Italy and Belgium.
Chase confirms his build-up to the MXoN has been going well. He represented the North King Country Motorcycle Club when the annual MXoN fundraiser event – The Battle of the Clubs Motocross – was held at Taupo in June and he won the MX1 class battles that day. There was talk that day that perhaps Chase might be the ideal replacement for national MX1 motocross champion Cody Cooper, a Team New Zealand regular for the MXoN, with the Mount Maunganui-based Honda rider unavailable for the MXoN event this season, and that’s exactly as it’s panned out.
Chase proved unbeatable in two classes at the annual Mercer Sand Prix, north of Huntly, a few weeks ago, taking his Honda CRF250 to dominate the MX2 class, finishing ahead of Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly, and he then also took a Honda CRF450 to clean sweep the MX1 class, finishing ahead of Hamilton’s three-time former MXoN team rider Kayne Lamont.
“I rode both classes at Mercer just to give myself more of a work-out,” Chase explained. “The more time I spend on a bike at the moment, the better for my fitness. I’ve been putting in the hard work and I’m feeling confident. I have been riding in sand as much as I can and I will be heading down to Taikorea (near Himatangi) for some sand training sessions soon too. I feel the experience I have had racing in sand over the years, plus my overseas experience too will certainly help, but I’m not underestimating how tough it will be at the MXoN.”
New Plymouth’s Shayne King will again co-manage Team New Zealand at the MXoN, sharing the managerial duties with Taupo’s Bevan Weal.
King was the 1996 500cc motocross world champion and a rider for New Zealand at the MXoN many times in the past. He said the race track at Assen would be “brutal” and Kiwi riders should be under no illusions about how tough it will be.
“Every year it’s the toughest motocross event in the world, but the circuit at Assen will be particularly challenging. It’s very deep sand, like nothing New Zealand riders will have encountered before.”
New Zealand has a remarkable record at this most prestigious of motocross events, which typically attracts three-rider teams from 40 countries, the Kiwis having finished third on the podium three separate times – in England in 1998, in Belgium in 2001 and in England again in 2006 – as well as finishing fourth in Belgium in 2003, fourth in France in 2005 and fifth in Austria in 1993.
In all, a Team New Zealand trio has finished among the top 10 on 14 memorable occasions. New Zealand finished 17th overall when the MXoN was held in the United States last year.
All three of the New Zealand team from 2018 – Cody Cooper, Rhys Carter and Hamish Harwood – were unavailable this year because of injuries or for personal reasons.
Words and Photos: Andy McGechan