The venue near Southbridge, about 40 minutes’ drive south of Christchurch, will host the two-day event on November 22-23 with a huge number of riders expected to flood the region from all corners of the country.
The veterans’ side of the competition will feature men over the age of 35, many of whom were national champions when in their prime, but the women’s section will sparkle with talent that is still on the rise and key individuals here will include Yamaha trio Courtney Duncan, Sarah Elwin and Mikayla Rowe (pictured here).
Otago’s Duncan (Fox Yamaha YZ125) is a Kiwi international with numerous crowns to her credit already – titles won even when racing against the boys – and she will be clear favourite to win against the women at Southbridge.
The 19-year-old Elwin (Bike Torque BikesportNZ.com Yamaha YZ125) is the reigning New Zealand senior women’s No.1, although that was achieved when Duncan was a no-show last season, while 16-year-old Rowe (Mach 1 BikesportNZ.com Yamaha YZ125) was crowned the national junior women’s motocross champion last November and these two reigning champions are both determined to defend those titles at Southbridge.
The 18-year-old Duncan from Palmerston – about halfway between Oamaru and Dunedin – stormed to victory on both Saturday and Sunday of Labour Weekend, proving to be one of the stand-out performers at the annual MX Fest event in Taupo.
Duncan scored a hat-trick of wins in the women’s class on the Saturday, on each occasion finishing ahead of Elwin. Duncan then posted a 1-3-4-1 score-card against the men and boys in the National 125cc class the following day.
Meanwhile, just a week later, Elwin was sensational at the Waikato Motocross Championships, near Te Kuiti, topping the all-in women’s class podium as Rowe finished the day an impressive runner-up.
Elwin was seemingly untouchable as she scorched to a hat-trick of wins at Te Kuiti, with Rowe finishing the day 11 points adrift of Elwin.
Despite her runner-up finish, Taranaki’s Rowe was impressive in Te Kuiti, especially considering that she has not been on her bike much in the past four months.
The year 12 pupil at New Plymouth Girls’ High School looked strong throughout the day, notching up a 2-2-3 score-card behind her senior and more experienced rival, and she will certainly be a title contender at Southbridge.
“I am looking forward to the challenge, but really it will just about having fun,” said Rowe.
“I have not been riding much lately and so my fitness it not what it needs to be. But I rode well at the Waikato champs and so I guess anything could happen at the nationals.”
Other riders to watch for in the women’s ranks include Hamilton’s Tyla Cushion, Nelson sisters Skye (aged 16), Tyla (15) and Roma Edwards (12), Geraldine’s Kate Brown, Ikamatua’s Grace Soeters, Sefton’s Jessica Ollis, Kaiapoi’s Caitlin Ryan, Hamilton’s Brenda Vickers, Renwick’s Stacey Cleaver, Greymouth’s Alex McCann and Templeton’s Madi Berry.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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