Racing them requires an immense amount of skill and courage and coming up this Labour weekend, October 24-25, it’s the Duckmanton AG-sponsored 2020 New Zealand ATV Championships, to be staged near Timaru and hosted by the Canterbury ATV Association.
The popular Backflips Dirt Farm ATV facility at Pleasant Point, on the outskirts of Timaru, is always well-prepared and will provide an ideal battleground for the pilots of these sleek but powerful brutes.
Defending champion in the premier grade is Stratford’s Camo Keegan and it will be hard not to rate him as favourite to win again this Labour Weekend.
Keegan actually has five national title wins to his credit in the premier grade – having won the title for the first time in 2013 and then scoring four in a row, winning in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 – so he knows he’ll have a target on his back this time around.
In addition to his younger brother Scott Keegan, the national ATV champion in 2015, others who could command centre stage in one class or another include Otorohanga’s Shane Robinson, Christchurch trio Craig Cox, Taylor Graham and George Doig, Amberley’s Angus Parish, Gisborne’s Ian Newman and Stratford’s Kim Reid, among others.
Multi-time former champion Ian Ffitch, from Amberley, returns to the race track this year, now fully recovered from the shoulder injury that prevented him from racing the nationals last season and he’s always worth counting on for a podium result.
Eltham’s Shane Hurliman will be eligible to race in the veterans’ class for the first time this season, the dairy farmer turning 40 just days before the event, and he reckons it may be his best chance of winning because he’ll be “a young one in the vets class … and every year that passes after this I’ll only be older and slower”.
Motorcycling New Zealand ATV commissioner Dennis Cox said he was looking forward to another great weekend of racing.
“Most of the racers will be familiar with the track. The nationals were hosted at the same venue two years ago, so there should be no surprises.”
There is certainly no shortage of talent and Christchurch trio Greg Graham, Harrison Graham and Madison Bleeker, Blenheim’s Lucas Collins, Wellington’s Sheldon Jupp, Keri Keri beef farmer Ross Simpson and Hawera teenager Tyler Campbell (main photo, above) could also be worth watching out for.
Among the female racers, expect to see Otorohanga’s Amy Corston and Stratford’s Nicola Reid (along with her with daughters Ashlee and Dannielle) to be among the leaders.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
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