It’s time to get out your calendars and scribble in a few special dates and places.
The schedule for the 2017 New Zealand Motocross Championships has now been set in concrete, with four contrasting types of terrain set to test the country’s elite dirt bike racers throughout February and March.
The four-round series will kick off near Timaru on February 5, with rounds to follow in Rotorua (February 19) and the Manawatu (March 12), with the final round in Taupo on Saturday, March 25.
“We are thrilled to be able to finally get this sorted,” said Motorcycling New Zealand motocross commissioner Howard Lilly, from Karaka.
“It has been a hard job to get the dates worked out,” he said.
“We are now looking ahead to a brilliant season. We are thrilled with the four clubs and the venues they are providing.”
Timaru’s track at Pleasant Point has been venue for the opening round for several seasons now, the course there an interesting mix of man-made jumps, hard-pack soil and tricky off-cambers.
Rotorua’s venue, on steep farmland about 25 kilometres from the city, heading towards Atiamuri, has also been a regular on the nationals calendar, the spectacular course there a favourite with spectators for the viewing that it offers.
The Flipp’s Motorcycle Park near Himatangi had been granted the third round of the series following the Manawatu-Orion Motorcycle Club’s successful first time hosting of the event last season.
Lilly said this was reward for and vindication of the way the Manawatu club had presented the venue last year, the sand-based track proving to be incredibly popular with riders and spectators alike.
He remarked that it probably should come as no surprise that the Manawatu club met the criteria in the first instance, seeing as it has been the host club of New Zealand’s largest motocross, the NZGP at Woodville, every year since 1961.
“Manawatu’s event last season was widely regarded as the highlight of the series last year,” said Lilly.
The final round is again set for Taupo, the popular pumice track valued as a true all-weather facility and the event will be held there on a Saturday, rather than the traditional Sunday, to enable the motocross community to celebrate their finals prizegiving in the town on Saturday night.
Several international riders are again expected to race the New Zealand nationals, with the Kiwi summer offering a great opportunity for their off-season training.
Confirmed venues for the 2017 motocross nationals are:
Round 1: February 5, 2017, Christchurch Off Road Club; Backflips Track Timaru.
Round 2: February 19, 2017, Rotorua Motorcycle Club; Rotorua Motocross Track.
Round 3: March 12, 2017, Manawatu Orion Motorcycle Club; Flipp’s Track, Himatangi.
Round 4: March 25, 2017, Taupo Motorcycle Club; Digger McEwen Motocross Park.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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