Some would argue that Wairarapa’s Luke Burkhart was the fastest MX2 class racer in the land during last season’s New Zealand Motocross Championships.
But, the fact of the matter is, although Masterton’s Burkhart (KTM) won more races than any other rider, he also made too many mistakes and therefore finished only fourth overall when the final points were tallied up.
It was Hamilton’s evergreen Darryll King who won the glory, taking a two-stroke Yamaha YZ250 to win the MX2 crown, eclipsing a couple of visiting Australian hot-shots – Daniel McCoy (Suzuki) and Cody Mackie (Honda) – and the luckless Burkhart in the process.
But the 27-year-old Burkhart plans to rectify matters in 2012 and heads into the new season in a determined frame of mind.
BikesportNZ.com caught up with Burkhart just to see how his preparation was coming along.
“The 2011 nationals were still a good championships for me,” he shrugged. “I kind of winged it really. I had not been riding much because I had been working pretty hard in the family’s cray-fishing business.
“I wasn’t able to squeeze in more than one practise session between each round of the series.”
Burkhart was also being handicapped by an old war wound, a damaged collarbone, a hangover from a crash he suffered in Christchurch when he was 18.
He headed in to hospital to have some of the metalwork removed a few weeks ago and now is building back up again towards the start of the new season.
“I had two four-screw plates removed and a few pins in the bone of my hand too. These old injuries were hurting me when I raced last season but now I’ll have some movement back.
“I will miss the annual Labour Weekend event at Taupo but I’ll be back in action at Whakatane and Woodville, riding again for the CMR Red Bull KTM team.
“I won the most races but I had too many DNFs last season,” he explained. “You can’t afford that in a 12-race series.
“I’ll have more fitness this season and I’m more focussed too.
“I have not won a national motocross title since November 2000 (when he won the 125cc crown ahead of fellow rising star Ben Townley). Winning another national motocross title is on my ‘bucket list’ of things to do before I retire.
“I’m currently working towards earning my (boat) skipper’s ticket and that takes a lot of hard work and focus, so this coming season is very important to me in lots of ways.
“My job is the most important thing and motocross is just a serious hobby, but I am still determined to win.”
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com