The balance of power in the motorcycle world comes under threat near Wellington this weekend.
The New Zealand Moto Trials Championships will be staged in the Kapiti Coast area, near Paraparaumu, over Labour Weekend with the entry list reading like a who’s who of motorcycling talent.
It’s hard to look past defending national champion Jake Whitaker, of Wainuiomata, to win the main prize, the Expert Grade crown, but he will face serious challenges from seven-time former national champion Warren Laugesen, of Levin, and Nelson pair Karl Clark and Nick Oliver.
“Jake has been working very hard and is easily the favourite but Warren is definitely a threat,” said Motorcycling New Zealand trials commissioner Jim Henderson. “Warren has plenty of experience and he’s a cool customer when the going gets tough.”
The first day of action is set for Maugatokutoku Valley Road, with day two at the Alexander Farm in Emerald Glen Road in Raumati South with the last round on Monday at Waihoanga Road, over the swing bridge off the Otaki Gorge Road.
“The first day will be along a rocky creek bed, with lots of trees roots and slippery clay,” said organiser Carl Robson, of Wellington.
“Day two is great for spectators with large obstacles for the riders, steep climbs and riding over felled trees and logs. Day three is mostly big, slippery rocks.
“It will really test the riders and even the best among them will lose points (for touching their feet on the ground or failing to complete sections).”
The A Grade could feature Feilding’s Warrick George, battling alongside Whitby’s Rory Mead, Nelson’s Peter Oliver and Taranaki’s Matt Foster.
Riders to watch for in the intermediate class include Tauranga youngster Jim Lowe-Pattie, Wellington’s Nick Ball and Christchurch rider Glen Smith, while Feilding policeman Andy Anderson could be a feature in the clubmans’ class, along with Napier’s Paul Simmonds and Katikati’s Peter Ladyman.
The presidents’ grade is expected to be a one-horse race with the vastly-experienced Stephen Oliver, of Nelson, tipped to win, although Te Puke’s Paul McLeod and Tauranga’s Warrick Merriman will no doubt stand in his way.
The best of the junior grade riders are likely to include Nelson’s Callum Anderson, Rotorua’s John Haynes and Auckland’s Liam Draper.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com