One of the great young talents of New Zealand motosport, Wellington 18-year-old Jake Whitaker will be in Kapiti competing in the three-day New Zealand Moto Trials Championships in Paraparaumu this Labour Weekend.
Whitaker is twice national Expert Grade Champion, in 2007 and 2008, and, as a 15-year-old, finished third in his first season as an Expert rider in 2006. In 2008 he came second in the Australian Expert title and won the annual Oceania title in 2007 and 2009.
In 2007, Whitaker competed in three rounds of the World Youth Championship in Czech Republic, Poland and England, always placing between 10-15th place. In 2008 he competed in the full 10 round championship travelling throughout Europe and going to Japan and the United States. At the Japanese round he placed fourth and was only a couple of points off a podium finish but took 10th place in the World Youth Championships.
Whitaker recently won the North Island Expert series, the first time he has been available in the country to do all the rounds and came second in the South Island series after winning four of the six rounds he attended.
He is expected to put on a superb display as he looks to challenge the records of some other Ixion NZ Trials Champions, the late James Lawton (Kapiti) and Mike and Chris Harris (Lower Hutt).
Motorcycle trials can trace its history back to 1909 and the running of the first Scottish 6-Day Trial from Edinburgh to John O’Groats and in 1914 when Alfred Scott issued a challenge to his workers at the Scott Motorcycle factory who had to ride and navigate their way from the Shipley factory through the Yorkshire Dales on a prescribed route to Bumsall, thus creating the famous Scott Trial. The earliest motorcycle clubs in New Zealand started in Nelson and Timaru in 1908-09 and held reliability trials and hill climbs. In New Zealand the trials sport developed after the Second World War as a new form of recreation modelled on the British observed trials gained in popularity.
The events were a mix of machine reliability and both rider endurance and skill. The first NZ Observed Trials Championship was held in 1955 and the event has been a regular part of the New Zealand motorcycle scene ever since.
The Moto Trials are run over ten sections (or obstacle sets on natural terrain) with the different classes of riders negotiating different levels of difficulty in the course, dependant on their entered skill level. Competitors from around New Zealand will compete in seven classes for the individual championships in Expert A, Expert B, Intermediate, Clubman, Junior, Presidents and Clubman B.
The current NZ champion Whitaker and former NZ and Australian Champion Warren Laugeson, of Levin, will be competing against top North and South Island riders including South Island Champion Jason Baker. Entry to the event is free to the public throughout the three days of the event.
The first day event on Saturday is being held at the Maugakotukutuku Valley Road starting at 10am-3.30pm 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 swingbridge off the Otaki Gorge Road.
Funding to promote and help run the event has come from Pub Charity with the Pelorous Trust covering the ambulance expenses. Further info is available on the website set up specially for the Kapiti Coast event www.nztrialschampionship.co.nz
Words by Rob Cochrane
Photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com