The 14-year-old will arrive at the coastal city on the west coast of the North Island – the base for much of the nation’s oil and gas production – prepared to expend as much energy as it takes to win one, or perhaps even two, titles at the weekend’s annual New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships.
This year’s three-day junior nationals will hit the steep Barrett Road Motorcycle Park facility for qualifying today, with a full programme of races to follow on Saturday and Sunday, and Yamaha hero Natzke anticipates a brutal weekend of action that should see him contest 10 races in his bid to win both the 12-14 years’ 125cc class and the 14-16 years’ 250cc class as well.
Hundreds of the sport’s elite young racers are expected to cram the pits this weekend, some riders as young as eight arriving to make their junior motocross debuts and others coming to sign off their junior careers before they turn 17 and head into the senior ranks or even to begin professional careers overseas.
Perhaps they will follow the example of Otago’s former national junior champion Courtney Duncan, the Yamaha ace currently racing in the United States.
Natzke has already tasted action overseas, with quite some success, and he has already claimed several New Zealand titles in the past too, but no campaign has perhaps been quite as arduous as the one he mounts this weekend.
“I didn’t race the junior nationals last season because I was sidelined with injury. But I have been back on a bike now for five months and I’m going as fast as ever.”
He will race 2013-model YZ125 two-stroke and YZ250F four-stroke bikes this weekend, with an extra challenge for him having to switch from one riding style to another with the two bikes totally different to manage.
The year 10 student at Hamilton Boys’ High School recently won the 13-14 years’ 125cc class at the annual Western Heights School motocross tournament, so he knows his form is good ahead of this weekend.
“I’ve still got three more years left racing in the junior ranks and I aim to win a few more titles before I turn senior, but I’m taking nothing for granted. I will have to beat some very fast riders.”
He lists Te Kuiti’s Sean Kelly, Ngatea’s Ben Broad, Onewhero’s Jayden Turnwald and Masterton’s Camden Butler among his main rivals.
Natzke is supported by Yamaha Motor New Zealand, Fox, Scott, Arai, Pirelli, Pro Taper, CNC Profile Cutting and Pro Shield.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com