The sandy course at Himatangi certainly sorted the men from the boys as three days of racing – seven races for each of the championship classes – pushed the young stars to breaking point and beyond at the Lucas Oils and Alpinestars-sponsored event.
Rongotea’s Seth Henson, Manukau’s Cobie Bourke and Tokanui’s Mitchell Weir respectively repeated national title wins, Henson adding the 12-14 years’ 125cc crown to the 11-12 years’ 85cc title he won in 2017, Bourke successfully defending his 14-16 years’ 85cc title and Weir adding the 12-13 years’ 85cc title to the 8-11 years’ 85cc title he won in 2016.
But for Pukekawa’s Jack Dunlop, Tauranga’s Madoc Dixon, Invercargill’s Seth Morrow and Oropi’s Levi Townley it was their first time on top of the podium at a national junior championship event, although Morrow had previously been a mini motocross champion.
Dunlop was in sensational form in claiming the premier 14-16 years’ 250cc title, winning five of his seven races over the weekend, clinching that trophy ahead of Otautau’s Jack Treloar and Dunedin’s defending champion Grason Veitch, while Dixon had more of a battle on his hands in the 15-16 years’ 125cc class, local hero Luka Freemantle giving him plenty to think about before he eventually won the title by just two points from the Palmerston North teenager.
Morrow, only recently recovered from injury, won four of his seven races in the 8-11 years’ 85cc class, winning the title by 11 points from Hamilton’s Jack Coleman.
Townley showed consistency counts as he finished no worse than sixth all weekend and took the new 8-11 years’ 65cc title by 15 points from Auckland’s Jack Ellingham, who rose up from fourth after day one to capture the runner-up spot. This class was a support class only last season, but now elevated to full championship status in 2019.
The event attracted the cream of Kiwi rising stars, with Motorcycling New Zealand motocross commissioner Ray Broad, of Ngatea, commenting that he believed it would be “close to record entry numbers this year”.
“This sand track is one that has to be respected and rewards the riders who have good skills and good fitness too.
“The Manawatu-Orion Motorcycle Club did a fantastic job managing the event and grooming the track. It was very professional.”
A non-championship support class was run for the female racers, with Motueka’s Roma Edwards winning the 125cc/250cc division and Rotorua’s Ticayla Manson winning the 65cc/150cc division.
The battle-within-a-battle for best club honours was won by the Southland Motorcycle Club, earning them the inaugural Bryan Davidson Memorial Trophy.
Southland scored 474 points over the weekend, edging out the host Manawatu Orion Motorcycle club by just three points, with the Tauranga Motorcycle club finishing third, 20 points further back.
Davidson, a long-time stalwart of the host Manawatu Orion Motorcycle Club, passed away last year. He was well loved and respected by the Kiwi motorcycling community and had held the post of MNZ motocross commissioner.
Motorcycling New Zealand general manager Virginia Henderson said it was “terrific value having the 65cc class and women’s support classes included for the first time this year and it will continue to be our focus”.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
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