It is New Zealand’s only extreme enduro – an event to test every nerve, sinew, nut and bolt – and it’s true that not everybody can cope with, let alone finish, The No Way In Hell enduro.
But then Hokianga’s Mitchell Nield is one hell of an enduro rider and his Gas Gas EC300 is one hell of a bike.
The 23-year-old Nield was in scintillating form when he won the two-day second annual No Way In Hell (NWIH) enduro at Oparau on Sunday and Waitangi Day Monday.
With the event sponsored by Kiwi Rider magazine, it was perhaps appropriate that a Kiwi Rider-sponsored rider such as Nield should win it.
The NWIH this year was a see-saw battle between the codes with five-time national trials champion and first-time NWIH competitor Jake Whitaker, of Wellington, pushing Nield (Gas Gas EC300) throughout, while last year’s inaugural NWIH winner, Auckland enduro ace Michael Skinner (KTM EXC300), had to settle for third outright this time around.
Whitaker (Montesa 4 RT) won Sunday’s short prologue, finishing ahead of Te Awamutu’s Kevin Archer (KTM EXC530), with Nield, Skinner and Hawke’s Bay’s seven-time former national trials champion Warren Laugesen (Beta Evo 290) rounding out the top five.
But the longer duration racing on Monday, Nield had the time and opportunity to nullify Whitaker’s intricate trials skills, using his pace and enduro knowledge to shoot back past the more balanced and calculating Whitaker.
“It was a multi-lap format this year, with a 15-minute rest period between each lap that enabled riders to catch their breath and gather their thoughts,” said Nield.
“Jake (Whitaker) had a line that I wasn’t keen to try but I’d catch him up again in the fast bits. Jake would ride past me like I was a squid in the steep sections but, on the downhills, I was in my element.
Most of the riders had also raced the opening round of the New Zealand Enduro Championships at the same venue on Saturday, perhaps adding to their fatigue, with only nine of the 51 starters completing three laps on Monday.
“I was pretty worn out at the end of all that,” said Nield.
Laugesen finished fourth, Archer was fifth and 2010 national enduro champion Jason Davis (KTM EXC300), of Whangamata, rounded out the top six.
Taranaki’s Dougy Herbert (KTM EXC300) won the expert over 40+ class, Tauranga’s Jim Pattie (KTM EXC300) won the over 200cc Expert class and Tokoroa’s Jesse Clarke (Husaberg TE125) won the under 200cc expert class. Ngaruawahia’s Kelvin Babington (KTM EXC-F 250) won the clubman class.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com