Nelson’s Karl Clark is the 2017 New Zealand moto trials champion after he swept the competition at the three-day nationals near Paraparaumu over Labour Weekend.
In doing so, he became the first South Islander in 25 years to win the top trophy.
Clark was in scintillating form as he won the premier Expert grade on each of the three days, edging out Taranaki’s Matthew Foster, while visiting French rider Jules Huguenin finished third overall.
Wellington’s Stuart Lawton stepped up from then A Grade to the Expert ranks this season and was rewarded with fourth overall.
“I retired from the sport two years ago with injury after I’d never been able to quite win the title,” said Clark.
“I had tried for about eight years to win the title but I was up against a very tough competitor … Wellington’s (eight-time national moto trials champion) Jake Whitaker. Jake’s switched over to a different bike sport (enduro racing) now, so I thought I’d come back to the sport and give it another crack.
“It wasn’t easy though. Jules Huguenin and Matt Foster gave me good competition.”
Clark said a South Islander had not won the top trophy since Nelson’s Stephen Oliver in 1992.
Meanwhile, it was the battle of the youth in the A grade this year with Dunedin’s Blake Fox winning all three days of competition to keep at bay the just-turned 13-year-old Wellington rider Dylan Ball, while the experienced Carl Robson, from Wellington, kept Ball on his toes, finishing the weekend just two points behind Ball – the only rider in the class on a 125cc bike.
It was perhaps consolation to Ball that he did manage to win the junior grade title (for the third year in a row), finishing ahead of Taranaki’s Daniel Herbert and Hunterville’s Hannah Rushworth.
Other grade winners this year were Dunedin’s Gavin Fox (clubmans’ grade); Ashhurst’s Kevin Pinfold (Intermediate A); Wellington’s Mark Sidebotham (Intermediate B); Christchurch’s Stefanie Downes (women’s grade); Hawke’s Bay’s Paul Simmonds (presidents) and Auckland’s Stephen Armistead (twin-shock).
Sharp rocks, slippery tree roots, treacherous creek beds and steep hills … these are mere judder bars on the path for these bike riders.
With this branch of motorcycling sport, the emphasis is not on speed, but on delicate balance, bravery and throttle control.
The prime aim is to conquer the extreme terrain without touching feet on the ground or falling off. Points are lost for these “faults” and the rider with the lowest score wins.
© Words and Foster photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
Main photo by Debbie Clark
Find BikesportNZ.com on FACEBOOK here