The unwelcome arrival of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic forced a late start to the Yamaha-sponsored New Zealand Enduro Championships this season and riders, sponsors and supporters were probably just happy to be able to race at all this year.
Motorcycling New Zealand did remarkably well to formulate a compact four-round competition, staged over two separate weekends, and the riders have responded by showing up in good numbers.
The condensed competition means racing has been particularly intense this season, with increased pressure to perform adding to the stress of this already demanding sport and the elimination of mistakes even more vital.
Rounds one and two were held in Masterton and Martinborough respectively last month, and this weekend it will be rounds three and four, both days of racing to be run over courses laid out in the Santoft Forest, near Bulls.
“The track is looking great,” said Motorcycling New Zealand enduro commissioner, Central Enduro Series co-ordinator and Kapi-Mana Motorcycle Club enduro co-ordinator Justin Stevenson, of Porirua.
“The distances that the riders will travel this weekend will be shorter than the previous two rounds, about 130 kilometres each day in the forest this weekend, but it will be extremely hard going in the sand.
“It would probably help if there’s a bit of rain there before the weekend.”
Cambridge’s Dylan Yearbury has a narrow lead over Whanganui’s defending national champion Seth Reardon after the opening two rounds, with 2019 125cc Youth Enduro GP World Champion Hamish Macdonald, from Christchurch, in third position overall.
Three other riders hold a share of fourth overall – Helensville’s Tom Buxton, Raglan’s Jason Dickey and Manawatu’s Paul Whibley – and any of these riders too could spring a surprise and win the title overall if they dominate in the sandy Santoft Forest this weekend.
Others who might fancy their chances of winning this weekend include Wainuiomata’s multi-time national trial champion Jake Whitaker, Whangamata’s Jason Davis, Oparau’s James Scott and Rotorua’s Bradley Lauder.
Others to watch out for include Thames rider Natasha Cairns, Stratford’s Josh Hunger, Kaikohe’s Mitchell Nield, Eketahuna’s Charlie Richardson, Raglan’s Brandon Given and perhaps even Taupo’s rising young star Wil Yeoman.
The 2020 Yamaha NZ Enduro Championships are supported by Mitas tyres Macaulay Metals, Best Build Construction, Silver-bullet and Kiwi Rider magazine.
2020 NZ Enduro Champs calendar:
Round 1 – Saturday, June 13 – 366 Mangarei Road, Masterton
Round 2 – Sunday, June 14 – Ruakokoputuna Hall, Martinborough
Round 3 – Saturday, July 11 – Raumai Road, Santoft Forest
Round 4 – Sunday, July 12 – Raumai Road, Santoft Forest
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
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