It is the motorcycling community’s annual New Zealand Miniature TT Championships this weekend.
TT racing is simply flat track racing, like superbike racing on soil instead of tarmac – the racing is off-road and the competitors use dirt bikes but, unlike motocross, there are no steep hills or jumps to slow things down – and there should be some very close and exciting two days of action on the flat, natural terrain course at Taupiri, just north of Hamilton.
The entry list for the Kawasaki-sponsored event this Saturday and Sunday includes the stars of motocross, cross-country racing, enduro and even road-racing, as well as All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and super motard exponents, and they will all reach eye-watering speeds as they chase national glory.
Again this year jointly run at the same venue by officials from the Patetonga and Huntly motorcycle clubs, the New Zealand Miniature TT Championships are a level playing field in more ways than one. No riders have any advantage over the others because the terrain is used on only one occasion each year and, of course, it’s a primarily flat track.
The event gets its name from Tourist Trophy, but should not be confused with the famous Isle of Man TT races.
One of the leading riders last year, Taupo rider Cohen Chase, will be back again this weekend and surely rates among the favourites in the premier MX1 class, although he should have his work cut out with Hamilton’s Kayne Lamont entered this year.
Ngatea’s Ben Broad also returns this year, looking to add another title to his name, and a number of top three contenders from the just-completed junior motocross nationals will also be racing this weekend.
Riders to watch out for include Orewa’s Joseph Andrell, Hamilton’s Reef Wheki, Rongotea’s Rhys Jillings, Pukekawa’s Tyler Brown, Oparau’s Hunter Scott and Cambridge’s Jared Hannon.
Former national motocross champions Mike Cotter, from Cambridge, and David Furze and Mitch Rowe, both from New Plymouth, can be expected to challenge for titles, while Pukekohe’s Nigel Gainfort, Taupo’s Jake Tomblin and Kumeu’s Logan Maddren are also sure to entertain.
In the ATV ranks, expect to see Taranaki brothers Scott and Camo Keegan battle with Otorohanga’s Shane Robinson and Egmont Village rider Cory Whitelock, while Patea’s Tyler Campbell and Stratford’s Nicola Reid should also feature.
“We are pleased to see the momentum now that TT racing has going for it,” said Motorcycling New Zealand motocross commissioner Ray Broad.
“There are good numbers of entries right across the board and the clubmans’ class has a full gate too. So many riders are keen to tackle this form of racing and MNZ certainly supports that.”
With racing for 10 separate championship classes over the two days, as well as support classes being run, the term “flat track” may be a little misleading, with the track expected to be rough and rutted by late Sunday afternoon, when rider fitness will play as much a part in the outcomes as any riders’ bravery, skill or horsepower advantage.
The venue for this weekend is again at 456 Rutherfurd Road, Taupiri.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
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