It is the adventure of a lifetime for any young Kiwi motocross racer, racing overseas for a professional team in a creditable competition.
That’s what Rotorua’s John Phillips, Hawke’s Bay’s Kieran Scheele and Masterton’s Bjarne Frederiksen (pictured above) have been able to do this season and their first major outing was at round one of the British Motocross Championships near Exeter last weekend.
They are each integral members of the Kiwi-backed Team Kiwi DBG Suzuki, managed by former Hawke’s Bay man Rex Michau.
“The first round of the British Championship was a real eye opener and it is on a far higher professional level than I anticipated,” said Frederiksen.
“I am definitely the small fish again.
“This first round was at a race track called Little Silver which was set in a valley and was quite similar to a very steep natural terrain tracks in New Zealand, with technical features in it like whoop sections and big doubles.
“It was the first track I have been to in England with decently-sized jumps, so I was excited to get out there.
“The first race I got an awesome jump out of the gate but I was starting from the outside on a 180-degree turn, so instantly got pushed wide in the corner.
“I forced through to about mid pack until about a quarter of the way through the first lap I was cleaned out from behind and run over. I was put back to last place, which is not how I wanted to start my first ever professional race.
“I quickly got up and started making my way through the back. I had passed about 10 riders until I made a stupid mistake and fell down again halfway through the 20-minute moto. I was put back to last place again and was able to make my way back to 30th before the end of the moto.
“The second race was even tougher, as I had a really bad start. I had a good jump again and was in the front half of the pack into the first corner until another rider straight-lined it from the inside and pushed me off the track. Luckily, I kept it on two wheels but I had to start from about last again. I made my way through the pack passing riders and ended up finishing in 26th spot.
“It’s really difficult to make passes as everyone is relatively the same speed and, without a good start, nobody really makes it back to the top end of the field.
“The third race I had a mediocre start and took it easy the first few laps, just to stay on, which was a big mistake. I made my way through some riders to the mid-20s until another rider clean took me out. I couldn’t start my bike and by the time I got going I was back in last with half a grip and a clutch lever I couldn’t reach. I finished out the moto in 32nd spot.
“The first round obviously didn’t go that great but I learned a lot out of the experience and now I know the level of competition I am up against. I’m keen to get back out there and try to improve my riding and obviously my results.
“I’m in the best shape I have ever been in and riding well so I’m confident I can put some good rides in. I’m really enjoying the lifestyle over here and working really hard towards my next race which is the first round of the British Masters (this weekend), so wish me luck.”
It was a similarly harsh welcoming to the UK race scene for Scheele.
“I was rather happy to settle with 21st in qualifying in a extremely strong field of riders. I did the best out of the DBG boys, so that was good,” said Scheele.
“In the first race my gate pick was right in the middle of the 40-gate start, so had to get a good one to keep clear of everyone. But that didn’t go to plan, with me locking handlebars with another rider as soon as the gates dropped.
“Got around the first corner way out back and had a lot of work to do. I made my way through the field each lap from in the 30s to find myself battling to get into 19th position and was working on the guy in front of me with three laps to go and got a damn flat tyre.
“I was gutted, doing all that hard work to let them all pass me back. I managed to hang it loose, finishing 27th.”
With his flat tyre repaired, Scheele was back on the start line again for moto two.
“I got a shocking start again but banged bars for the first couple of corners and got smoked by another rider straight-lining me into a corner and sending me over the bank. I was dead last and was an angry kiwi making his way back through the field to 26th spot.
“The third race I had another bad start but was going to hold my ground this time and hold my lines. I charged the whole race with my off-the-bike fitness work helping out a lot and I was passing people right up in until the last lap and finished a great 17th with more energy still in the tank.
“It was an up-and-down day but good to get the first round out of the way. I’m racing the British Masters this weekend, the third biggest series over here, but there won’t be as many GP riders there and I’m looking forward to it.
“I’ve got a lot of starts to work on and more sprint laps on the bike. Hopefully I will get my way into that top 15.”
© Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com