This weekend’s big motocross at Woodville can’t come soon enough for Reece Walker.
The 18-year-old Yamaha ace from the small settlement of Hope, south of Nelson, has been out of action for much of the past couple of seasons, but he’s back in the fray now.
He has already been “knocking on the door” for a major trophy this summer and it’s probably just a matter of time before he’s on the top step of the MX2 (250cc class) podium.
His next outing is the biggest event on the Kiwi race calendar, the 57th annual Honda New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville, this Saturday and Sunday.
Walker took his Filco Farm and Sport-sponsored Yamaha YZ250F to finish among the leaders at the big annual Honda Summercross at Whakatane just after Christmas, a huge surprise to onlookers who had perhaps not seen Walker feature at all over most of the previous 12 months.
An electrical problem meant he didn’t finish the first race of the day at Whakatane, but he followed that up with thirds and fourths, although he was forced to settle for ninth overall at the end of the weekend.
“I’m based in the North Island now (in Hamilton) and moved up here to be closer to the main race action. I needed more intensity to sharpen up my riding,” he explained.
“I was pretty pleased with how I performed at Whakatane, although I actually expected much more of myself.”
That may seem an odd comment from a man who broke vertebrae in his back at round two of the motocross nationals in 2016, an injury that sidelined him for six weeks. He then absented himself further from racing when he took a job with his father on a fishing boat for the following three months.
“That meant no bike riding for me. Then I had surgery to remove a metal rod from my femur because of a previous injury. It seemed like injury after injury for me and so I wasn’t able to get up to full speed.”
But he’s certainly approaching that now – Walker qualifying fastest in the MX2 class at the weekend’s annual King of the Mountain motocross in Taranaki.
He proceeded to convincingly win the first race of the day on Sunday, until electrical gremlins struck him again in race two and he slipped back to finish eighth.
He took his practice bike to the line for the third and final race, taking fourth at the chequered flag and earning fourth overall for the event, finishing the day behind Taupo’s Brad Groombridge (Suzuki), Auckland’s Mason Wilkie (Yamaha) and Hawera’s Daryl Hurley (Suzuki).
“Things are starting to click for me now and I’m really looking forward to seeing it all come together at Woodville this weekend.”
The intensity levels will rise a notch or two this weekend, with international riders also lining up in his MX2 class, but Walker at least knows he has made a strong comeback and has the ability to run with the leaders.
Racing over the two days at Woodville caters for minis, juniors, women and veterans, with the MX2 class one of the highlights of Sunday’s programme.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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