Terrible track conditions were really the only obstacle faced by Kaiwaka’s Cullen Curtis at the New Zealand ATV Motocross Championships in Taranaki at the weekend.
Few competitors were able to match the Yamaha quad bike ace as they tackled some diabolical terrain.
The degrees of difficulty over the two days could not have been more contrasting or any more extreme than those faced by riders at the Barrett Road Motorcycle Park, near New Plymouth, with hot, dry and dusty conditions choking bikes and riders alike on Saturday and cold, clinging, sticky mud causing chaos the following day.
Visibility was hard to find on both days, so it was just as well that 17-year-old Curtis quickly put his Yamaha YZF450 out in front of the pack in four out his five races in the senior 450cc production class.
With event organisers mindful that wet weather had been forecast for Sunday’s second of two days of racing, they decided they should attempt to power through as many of the planned seven races for each of class while the sun shone on Saturday.
Four races were completed for each of the seven quad bike classes by late on Saturday afternoon, Curtis winning all his dusty 450cc class outings, and it therefore slightly reduced some of the pressure on competitors for when the course then transformed into the expected muddy quagmire the following day.
So, with four wins under his belt on Saturday, all Curtis needed was a conservative approach in the treacherous slop in Sunday’s solitary 450cc class race for him to take the crown.
He settled for a runner-up finish in that race, behind New Plymouth’s Murray Symons, and it was comfortably enough to earn him the title.
He finished the championship 23 points ahead of Christchurch’s Sam George, with New Plymouth’s Cory Whitelock taking the third step on the podium.
“I felt quite a bit of pressure coming to this event because (local rider) Jack Burr was perhaps the favourite and I was on a new bike. I had only raced the bike once before this weekend and was still getting used to it,” said Curtis.
“I’m glad I did well on Saturday, because that took the pressure off me for Sunday. I knew I only had to stay out of trouble and finish the race on Sunday to claim the title.
“I wanted to win the (Sunday’s) muddy race too, but it was not worth forcing anything and making mistakes. This was the best track I’ve ever ridden on. I loved the big jumps.”
Meanwhile, other class winners were: Lepperton’s Scott Keegan (senior A premier class); Christchurch’s Greg Graham (veterans’ class); Christchurch’s Abby Holliday (women’s grade); Christchurch’s Taylor Graham (junior A grade); Christchurch’s Max Lecompte (junior B grade); Christchurch’s Kalese Lecompte (ATV minis); Auckland’s Sean Burborough (clubmans support class); Tauranga’s Nathan Hunt (clubmans trail riders junior support class).
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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