The rider is aged 17 and his weapon of choice a ‘positively geriatric’ 2008-model bike and it created something of a fairytale when this man and machine came together to stun the sport’s established stars at the weekend.
Canterbury’s Hamish Macdonald is a familiar face on the national enduro racing scene, where he has won national titles in his class and has always been a contender for outright honours, but he was in unfamiliar territory when he lined up at Sunday’s opening round of the New Zealand Motocross Championships near Timaru.
Although a first-timer racing at national motocross championships level, the Christchurch teenager took his nine-year-old Yamaha YZ125 to qualify an astonishing second fastest at the demanding Pleasant Point track, on the outskirts of Timaru.
Many of his fellow competitors were confused that a rider making his motocross nationals debut could also take old machinery and be so instantly imposing.
The track was muddy a treacherous early in the day and this perhaps suited the enduro ace, but he still accumulated solid points as the track progressively dried out and eventually formed deep, concrete-hard ruts.
Macdonald eventually finished 4th, 7th and 5th in the three 125cc class points races, good enough for fifth overall on the day and certainly something for him to be proud of.
“I had never ridden ruts like this before, so I think I did pretty well to handle it okay,” said Macdonald.
“The Yamaha is a ‘project bike’ for me,” he said. “I bought it for $2000 and just given it a bit of a freshen-up. I’ve replaced a few worn bits but I have actually not gotten around to doing anything with the suspension yet.
“This is the first time I’ve raced the motocross nationals and I gave myself a bit of a shock when I qualified second fastest. I just tried to be smooth and not make any mistakes,” said the young man from West Melton.
“I usually race enduro events and this was totally different for me.
“I think you need to be a good all-rounder for enduros and so this experience was good for me.”
Unfortunately, Macdonald won’t be racing the remaining rounds of the motocross nationals.
“I’ll be switching back to enduro racing and concentrate on that, although I will probably race motocross again this coming weekend at the Golden Nuggets (stand-alone) event on the West Coast, near Greymouth.”
The 125cc class at Timaru was won by Taihape’s Hayden Smith, with Karaka’s Kurtis Lilly runner-up, Nelson’s Hayden Wilkinson third and Levin’s Dan Bell and Macdonald rounding out the top five.
The nationals competition now heads to Rotorua for round two in two weeks’ time, on February 19.
Round three is set for Palmerston North on March 12, with the fourth and final round at Taupo on March 25.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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