There were very few surprises at the opening two rounds of motorcycling’s North Island Trials Championships in Taranaki at the weekend.
Kiwi international Jake Whitaker, the current national champion from Wainuiomata, convincingly won the experts grade on both days, on a steep hill course at Opunake on Saturday and at a rocky, creek-bed circuit near Inglewood on Sunday.
He headed off seven-time former national champion Warren Laugesen, of Levin, with Motueka’s Karl Clark
Taking third spot.
“The weather was great for both days, so fantastic in fact that the out-of-towners couldn’t believe Taranaki could produce it … and they were amazed they could see the mountain too,” said event organiser Grant McEwen.
Taranaki riders also featured with New Plymouth’s Matt Foster finishing runner-up in the A grade, behind Tauranga’s Jim Lowe-Pattie and ahead of Wellington’s Carl Robson.
Opunake’s Andrew Clement was runner-up in the intermediate grade, behind Auckland’s Peter Boettcher, while New Plymouth’s Casey Rook, in his first year in the sport, took second spot in the clubman’s grade, behind Feilding’s Andy Anderson.
Tauranga’s Warwick Merriman — the father of four-time world enduro champion Stefan Merriman — won the presidents’ grade, from Te Puke’s Paul McLeod and Paraparaumu’s Kevin Tither.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com