The best of the “four on the floor” brigade will be put to the test in Taranaki this weekend.
The 2015 New Zealand ATV (all terrain vehicle) Motocross Championships will be held on the steep Barrett Road Motorcycle Park facility, on the outskirts of New Plymouth, this Saturday and Sunday, with local riders among several of the leading title contenders.
Christchurch’s Ian Ffitch is expected to travel up with a large South Island contingent to try and defend his open class title, hoping to add that to the national Mini TT title in this premier class that he won at Kuratau in July, but he knows he can expect to meet fierce opposition in Taranaki.
Stratford brothers Camo and Scott Keegan, New Plymouth pair Jack Burr and Luke Etheridge, Tauranga’s Mark Goldstone and Auckland’s Andrew Vincent, among others, could be expected to feature near the front of their respective classes.
Eltham’s Shane Hurliman comes out of retirement to make a welcome return to the sport and he may surprise a few.
National No.1 Ffitch had the pleasure of racing near his home town of Amberley when the 2014 nationals were staged last season, but the home advantage may swing towards the Taranaki men this time around.
Sponsored by New Plymouth company Cory’s Electrical, the racing is sure to provide sparks, particularly since the course is expected to be extremely challenging.
“It is going to be a difficult track for some riders,” said event organiser Jono Keegan. “It will be okay for the top guys, but some of the riders won’t be so confident on the steep up-hills, down-hills and the big jumps.
He said there were a “healthy number of entries for this weekend, with a lot of riders travelling up” from the South Island.
“The track is looking great and has been well groomed. It will offer some spectacular viewing, with the big downhill jump a real crowd-pleaser.”
While much of the focus at the nationals will go on the premier grade, the open class, racing is also expected to be intense in the other categories too.
Etheridge was beaten only once on his way to winning the Open Expert grade at the nationals last year, finishing ahead of Gisborne’s Ian Newman, with Christchurch rider Daniel Cowie taking the third step on the podium, and these riders should be among the leading contenders in that class in New Plymouth in November.
Taranaki rider Burr, along with Christchurch’s Sam George and Christchurch’s Richard McGlashen, were the leading riders in the 450cc Production class last year, Aucklander Tyla Nairn won four of seven races in the 250cc Production class in 2014, winning that from Christchurch’s Taylor Graham and Amberley’s Angus Parish.
Auckland’s Trent Way, Napier’s Wade Taylor and Canterbury quartet Jessie Lyall, Max Le Compte, Gary Doig and Lorne Kirk should also feature.
There will be races also for the juniors, women and mini quad riders.
Spectator entry is free and racing starts both days at about 10am.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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