Tauranga’s Phillip Shilton will be hoping to turn local knowledge into valuable points at rounds three and four of the North Island Moto Trials Championships in the Bay of Plenty this weekend.
The series kicked off with rounds one and two near Wellington in February, persistent rain making conditions very difficult for the riders, although Shilton (pictured above) was one man who did cope well, dominating the A Grade that weekend.
South Islander Blake Fox, from Brighton, Lower Hutt’s Carl Robson and Napier’s Matthew Knox are expected to seriously challenge Shilton.
The smart money is on Kiwi international Jake Whitaker to again rule the top category, the Expert Grade, just as he did at Wellington, although Nelson’s Karl Clark and New Plymouth’s Matthew Foster will seek to keep him honest.
Hosted by the Tauranga Motorcycle Club, day one today is scheduled for Wharry Road, Waihi, signposted from State Highway 25. Day two tomorrow (Sunday) is 745 Number Four Road, near Te Puke, signposted from State Highway 2.
Top riders to look for in the intermediate grade include vastly experienced Ashhurst rider Kevin Pinfold, who leads the class after round one, along with Auckland’s James Snowden and Wellington’s Robert Howard.
Renwick’s Brendan Wadsworth is also expected to again make the pilgrimage north for the weekend’s action and he will attempt to stretch his lead at the top of the presidents’ grade, fending off the threats posed by equally talented riders such as Tauranga’s Warwick Merriman, (the father of multi-talent Kiwi bike rider Stefan), Paraparaumu’s Kevin Tither and Tauranga’s Kevin Gundry.
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 five and six are set for the Manawatu region on April 30 and May 1. The 10-round series wraps up in Hawke’s Bay on July 16-17.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com