The 2020-21 New Zealand motocross season kicks into life, as usual, with the big annual MX Fest in Taupo this Saturday and Sunday and this year Labour Weekend will also include the popular Battle of the Club Motocross event too as a curtain-raiser on Friday.
Add into this the Husqvarna Hard Adventure Enduro, to be run over the weekend in forestry land just north of Taupo, and bike racers and fans alike are really spoiled for choice.
Just a few months ago, this was not thought possible as the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic sent jitters across the planet, but New Zealand – an isolated and self-sufficient island nation so far away from the virus troubles of Europe and the USA – is almost experiencing life as normal.
Yes indeed, the popular Huka Honda-sponsored MX Fest event has again attracted all the nation’s major riders and race teams and this year will be an extra special event, now set to run over three days, from October 23-25.
Now in its 35th year, this year’s expanded MX Fest will kick off with the Battle of the Clubs event on Friday, the racing here a traditional fundraiser for Team New Zealand’s annual assault on the Motocross of Nations (MXoN) in Europe (and pictured here is Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper, in action at the 2017 MXoN in England).
Although the 2020 edition of this international “Olympic Games of Motocross” is not going ahead in France this season, it simply means funds raised over Labour Weekend will help the Kiwis get a head-start on building for their 2021 campaign.
The club-versus-club format used for this event – which is similar to the nation-versus-nation configuration of the MXoN – is immensely popular with the New Zealand motocross community.
The Battle of the Clubs is an event that had originally been scheduled to run earlier this year, before it was postponed due to the pandemic.
Wrapping up Friday’s programme will be the Bell helmets-sponsored Dirt Sprint – a knock-out format series of short races – and this is scheduled for late afternoon.
As usual, the weekend will feature the mini riders, junior and women racers in action on Saturday, with the popular Alpinestars-sponsored Speedcross again planned for the man-made “stadium” section of the park on Saturday evening.
The following day is reserved for senior motocross racing and this will be “shake off the cobwebs” time for all of the leading race teams as they build towards the start of the 2021 motocross nationals.
There will no doubt be some exciting match-ups, with draw-card riders such as Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper, Taupo’s Brad Groombridge, Tauranga’s Josiah Natzke, Oparau’s James Scott, Mangakino pair Maximus Purvis and Kayne Lamont, West Auckland’s Hamish Harwood, Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly and Waitakere’s Ethan Martens, for example, all keen to start the season with a bang.
“This will be a huge weekend of motorcycling activities,” said Taupo Motorcycle Club president Bevan Weal.
“It will be a huge release for many after COVID restrictions and we can’t thank our sponsors enough for still being there for us.
“It’s a real festival of motocross and this year it stretches for three massive days, so definitely not to be missed.”
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
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