Coromandel’s Jason Davis is sending a message loud and clear – the off-road motorcycle ace from Whangamata wants his national title back.
The KTM rider headed off-shore soon after clinching the 2010 New Zealand Enduro Championships title and commitments to race in the United Kingdom meant he was unable to defend his Kiwi crown this season.
But now he’s back in New Zealand and faster than ever. He’s also hungry to reclaim glory on the domestic scene, while at the same time showing his rivals just how much he’s learned overseas these past 12 months.
The evidence of his increased speed came at the weekend when he won the opening round of the popular Bel Ray Cross-country series near Maramarua on Sunday.
But the 23-year-old forestry worker made life difficult for himself, the last rider to get away at the start and he had to battle through intense traffic for the opening two laps.
“I was up to third after two laps and then set about trying to get past the leaders (Auckland’s Chris Power, on a Honda CRF450, and Mokau’s Adrian Smith, on a Yamaha YZ250F),” said Davis, who was riding a 2012-model KTM 350 XCF.
“I grabbed the lead and then had a pretty quick pit for fuel and managed to stretch my advantage to just over two minutes over Power.”
Davis maintained that advantage and, at the end of his seventh lap, was still under the two hours, so sent out for an eighth lap. By the time Power arrived at the line the two hours had elapsed, so his race was over and he was forced to settle for runner-up spot.
Power was well satisfied with his performance, although it was affected by mechanical problems.
“I was pushing a little hard (to catch Davis) and had a small slid out on an off camber,” said Power.
“When I remounted, I could hear something was wrong with the bike. It sounded like loose spokes which can happen on a new bike. I pulled over and checked the wheels and found nothing wrong. But the noise was still there when I got going again. I later realised when looking down on a slow corner that my header pipe guard had broken and was knocking against the header making the noise I was looking for.
“I got back on the gas again but it was too late and Davis had ridden a great race. I was happy with second place as it was the first ride on the new bike. I had only put on my own handlebars and had even run stock tyres.”
Davis has been making it a habit to win in recent weeks, having cleaned up at the Nut Buster extreme enduro near Christchurch a fortnight ago and also winning the opening round of the Grand National Cross-country Championships at Matata a week ago, despite riding that event with an injured hand.
With three important wins under his wheels, Davis is settling in for a glorious season ahead, one he hopes will culminate with him winning the national enduro championship title.
“I have had this new bike for three months now and I am very happy with it,” said Davis. “I’m on a really good bike and I feel I can win back the national enduro championship this coming season,” he said.
“I’m still not quite at full fitness yet but I’m definitely quicker than I was the last time I raced in New Zealand.”
The 2012 New Zealand Enduro Championships are set to kick off early in the New Year.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com