Auckland’s Callan May has been sidelined with injury for the past few months, but you would not have guessed that to watch him roar to victory at round two of the Dirt Guide Cross-country Series near Tokoroa on Sunday.
And if the 26-year-old’s convincing victory wasn’t enough to have his rivals worried, things are only going to get worse for them because the Kiwi Rider and BikesportNZ.com-supported Yamaha star from Titirangi was “just warming up”.
More than 150 riders showed up to compete in the two races on Sunday – a 90-minute junior race, followed by a two-hour race for the seniors – the course set out at the same venue used for round one the previous month, in forestry at Ohakuri, about halfway between Taupo and Tokoroa.
May (Yamaha YZ250FX) was quick off the mark when the shotgun blast signalled the start to the senior race soon after midday, but he was in heavy traffic through the first corner.
He was up to second position 300 metres later, as the bikes shot off the fire-break road and into the forest for the first time.
May passed the race leader, Wainuiomata’s Jake Whitaker (KTM 300EXC), about halfway through the first of what would eventually be five laps, each taking about 25 minutes to complete, and he was never headed.
“It was pretty slick in the forest, but I pushed as much as I could to try to open up a gap,” said May.
He soon had fellow Yamaha rider Richard Sutton for company, the rider from Drury right on May’s rear wheel.
“At first I couldn’t shake him, although, after the first pit stop I was warmed up and managed to pull away from him,” May explained.
May eventually won the race by 45 seconds, with Sutton (Yamaha YZ125) settling for runner-up, while Cambridge’s Beau Taylor (KTM 250XC) finished three minutes further back to claim the third podium spot.
“I’m building up my strength and speed towards contesting the upcoming (six-round) NZXC Series. My aim this season is to win that,” said May.
The three-round Dirt Guide series is now delicately poised, with Sutton on top of the points table, thanks to his 4-2 score-card, just two points ahead of Cambridge’s Ashton Grey (Yamaha YZ450FX, who has finished 2-5 in the two rounds thus far), while Whitianga’s Blake Wilkins (Husqvarna TE150, with a 3-8 score-card) is ranked third overall, with one round remaining.
Sutton, a 27-year-old plumber, has surprised even himself this season.
“Once I got onto the back wheel of Callan, we managed to lose the guy behind me. Because I was following Callan I was learning his lines and going quite quick.
“I broke my leg last year and that put me out of racing for a bit, but I’ve come back pretty strong.
“I’m pretty happy with how I’m riding. I don’t know what’s gotten into me. I think it’s the bike.
“I used to ride a four-stroke but I’m loving the 125cc two-stroke Yamaha. I think that, on a bigger bike, you get lazy. I’m not being lazy on this.”
May did not contest the series opener because of his injury and the winner at round one, Rotorua’s Ethan Harris (Yamaha YZ250X) was a no-show on Sunday, which explains why May and Harris share only sixth spot in the series standings.
Meanwhile, in the shorter junior race held earlier that morning, Taupo’s Wil Yeoman took his Yamaha YZ125 to make it two win from two starts in the series, finishing two minutes ahead of Oparau’s Hunter Scott (KTM 85SX).
The third and final round of the Dirt Guide series is set for July 22, also at Ohakuri.
This final round doubles up as the opening round of the parallel-but-separate Yamaha-backed NZXC cross-country series, that competition piggy-backing onto select major events throughout the North Island.
The Dirt Guide Series is sponsored by Michelin, Bel Ray, Renthal, O’Neal, DRC, Zeta, Kiwi Rider magazine, Oakley, TCX boots, Yoshimura and Forest Trail Events and SatCo Logging Equipment.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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