Rocks, tree roots, creek beds and steep hills … mere judder bars on the path to another national title for Wellington’s Jake Whitaker.
The Kiwi international barely seemed to be troubled by the tricky terrain, or his motorcycling rivals, at the three-day New Zealand Moto Trials Championships in the Waikato region over the Labour Weekend (October 22-24).
Whitaker eclipsed Motueka’s Karl Clark and seven-time former national champion Warren Laugesen, of Napier, on his way to retaining his Expert Grade title at the weekend.
“Jake (Whitaker) certainly impressed the crowd,” said Motorcycling New Zealand Moto Trials commissioner Jim Henderson.
Three different courses were used, all within a short drive of Te Awamutu, and featured a wide variety of natural obstacles.
“It was good weather for day one on Saturday with Jake impressing as he conquered some very big rocks indeed. He really showed his world class ability.
“There was a bit of rain on day two and that made things very greasy. Some areas proved to be impossible for some riders, although Jake again made it look easy.
Hastings rider Luke March (pictured above) won the A Grade, ahead of Rotorua’s John Haynes, while Ashhurst’s Kevin Pinfold took top honours in the Intermediate Grade, finishing ahead of Auckland’s James Snowdon.
Kaikoura’s David Trewin won the Clubmans’ class, ahead of Hamilton’s Thomas Evans; Tauranga’s Ben McLeod won the Junior Grade, ahead of Hawke’s Bay’s Henry Buck, and McLeod’s father, Paul McLeod, won the pre-87 category from Christchurch’s Paul Jackson.
Meanwhile, the winner of the Presidents’ Grade is still undetermined with a protest pending.
“The numbers of competitors was very good throughout the grades and I’m in a very positive frame of mind about the health of the sport,” said Henderson. “It was good to see Luke March come back from injury and win his class too.”
Balance, bravery and throttle control is the main emphasis for this unique motorcycle competition. Speed is not essential, with the prime aim instead being to conquer 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.
“I really want to compliment the crew who ran the event. It was handled brilliantly,” Henderson concluded.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com