The bike world’s bandits of balance kick off their season near Wellington with the opening two rounds of the North Island Moto Trials Championships set for both Saturday and Sunday.
It will be tough to look beyond local rider Jake Whitaker to take top honours in the top Expert grade but the Wainuiomata man will need to be at his best nonetheless with several other riders sure to take advantage should he slip up.
One of those men is national No.3 Matt Foster, from New Plymouth, currently exhibiting good form and expected to at least keep Kiwi international Whitaker on his toes.
Motueka’s Karl Clark is another rider expected to threaten Whitaker.
Hosted by the Ixion Motorcycle Club, day one on Saturday is scheduled for Perkins’ property, 324 SH1, Paekakariki, while the following day is set for Judd’s property, 583 Haywards Hill Rd, Pauatahanui.
This weekend will be one of only three events that Whitaker will be competing in before he again heads off to ride in Europe.
Meanwhile, South Islander Blake Fox, from Brighton, should be a contender for A grade honours, along with Lower Hutt’s Carl Robson and Tauranga’s Phillip Shilton.
Top riders in the intermediate grade include vastly experienced Ashhurst rider Kevin Pinfold, young Liam Draper, from Auckland, and Rotorua’s John Haynes.
Renwick’s Brendan Wadsworth is also expected to make the pilgrimage north for the weekend’s action and he will tackle the presidents’ grade, pitting himself against such notable riders as Te Puke’s Paul McLeod, Tauranga’s Warwick Merriman and Paraparaumu’s Kevin Tither.
Junior riders Benjamin McLeod, of Te Puke, and Tauranga’s Jacob Gundry should also be worth watching.
With this sport, the emphasis for this sport is not on speed, with the prime aim to conquer the extreme terrain without touching feet on the ground or falling off. Points are lost for these “faults” and a rider with the lowest score wins.
Access to both days’ riding will be signposted from the respective main roads. There is no charge for spectators. Riding starts at 10am on both days.
Rounds three and four are set for the Tauranga region on April 2-3. The 10-round series wraps up in Hawke’s Bay on July 16-17.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com