Preparation for his national title defence could not have been much worse for South Islander Grason Veitch, but it didn’t seem to matter in the end.
The 14-year-old from Dunedin surprised everybody, except possibly himself, when, against incredible odds, he again won the 12-14 years’ 125cc title at the New Zealand Motocross Championships.
Amazingly, the KTM rider had been sidelined with injury right up until the first race of the weekend, a fractured pelvis following a crash three weeks earlier meaning he was unable to train fully for the event.
But, while it was with some trepidation that he climbed on board his 125cc KTM for the first qualifying session on Saturday morning, any concerns he had quickly cleared as he powered to the top of the timing charts, posting a time nearly three seconds quicker than the second best qualifier, Ngatea’s Cole Dalley.
Veitch then went on to totally dominate the racing, winning all five races over the two days.
What was even more staggering was that he won the title at the weekend by an even greater margin than he did when the junior nationals were staged in Hawke’s Bay last year and he was beaten just once on that occasion, on his way to claiming the 125cc crown for the first time.
Veitch is no stranger to visiting the podium at national championship level – he finished third overall in the 8-10 years’ 85cc class in 2012, was 8-10 years’ champion a year later, then finished third overall in the 11-12 years’ 85cc class in 2014. With his title win at the weekend it makes it three years in a row that he’s been national champion after winning the 11-12 years’ 85cc grade in 2015 and then winning the 12-14 years’ 125cc for the first time last year.
Veitch finished the 2017 edition of the nationals a solid 15 points clear of his nearest challenger, Christchurch’s Marshall Phillips, with the eventual No.3 rider, Te Aroha’s Luke Van Der Lee, finishing another 20 points further back.
“I crashed while practicing at Josh Coppins’ training facility three weeks ago and (former world championship GP rider) Josh said it was one of the biggest crashes he’d ever seen,” said Veitch, a year 11 pupil at Otago Boys’ High School.
“It was my first time back on the bike on Saturday, but I felt pretty good straight away.
“I was a little bit nervous when I went out on to the track for the first time on Saturday, but my confidence increased after each session.”
Veitch said he will rest now and complete his recovery before heading to Australia to tackle the famous stand-alone Manjimup 15,000 event on June 2-4.
The Manjimup 15,000 is still the largest motocross event on the Australian calendar, featuring international, national and local riders all competing for a prize pool of $22.000 on the most iconic motocross track in the country, home of the 1992 Motocross of Nations, the only time this event has ever been held in Australia.
Other class winners at the weekend’s junior nationals were Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis (14-16 years’ 250cc class and 15-16 years’ 125cc class); Matamata’s Brodie Connolly (13-16 years’ 85cc class); Rongotea’s Seth Henson (11-12 years’ 85cc class) and Stratford’s Katriel Jones (8-10 years’ 85cc class).
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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