Wairoa’s Tommy Watts was simply unstoppable at the two-day event near Mosgiel, taking his Husqvarna TC125 bike to completely dominate the 15-16 years’ 125cc class, scoring five wins from five starts and finishing the weekend a safe 21 points ahead of his nearest challenger, Dunedin’s Grason Veitch.
“This was my fourth attempt to win a title at the junior nationals, since my first campaign in 2014. On that occasion I was riding in the 85cc class and getting lapped by the top riders. Now it’s me doing the lapping,” he laughed.
“A lot has changed for me since 2014. I’m now more experienced, bigger, stronger and in a bigger bike class. I love the Husqvarna and I’m really clicking with it.
“At the start of the year I set a few goals for myself … to finish top five in the senior nationals and to earn a podium spot in the junior nationals. I’ve exceeded all my expectations.”
It has truly been an incredible season for the 16-year-old Watts, a year 12 boarding pupil at Napier Boys’ High School.
Watts has quickly risen up the national motocross rankings in recent months and his many successes on the race track have certainly gained him widespread recognition.
Last November Watts collected the 2017 Wairoa Junior Sportsperson of the Year award and was then called back to the stage to also collect the night’s top honour, overall Sportsperson of the Year.
Just last month he succeeded in wrapping up second overall in the 125cc class at the senior nationals, on that occasion finishing behind Kiwi international Maximus Purvis, from Mangakino.
The weekend’s junior national campaign were his last at that level, as he now graduate fulltime to the senior ranks, although he is still eligible for junior honours at world level and he is currently making plans to contest the Junior Motocross World Championships in Australia in August.
The modest Watts would be the first person to say that much of the credit for his success also goes to the people working for him behind the scenes – his parents, Bronnie and Graeme, his mechanic Jimmy Ashton, suspension guru Craig Guy, HLR Husqvarna Racing Team manager Howard Lilly and Patrick Stafford, of Husqvarna New Zealand.
Meanwhile, it would have been great consolation to dual-class rider Veitch that he did win the 14-16 years’ 250cc title at the weekend.
Other class winners at the junior nationals were Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly (Junior 12-14 years’ 125cc class); Rangiora’s Cobie Bourke (Junior 13-16 years’ 85cc class); Darfield’s Tyler Wiremu (Junior 11-12 years’ 85cc class); Leeston’s Kobe Thoms (Junior 8-10 years’ 85cc class) and Invercargill’s Charlie Baynes (Junior 8-11 years’ 65cc, support class).
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
Find BikesportNZ.com on FACEBOOK here
Full results are HERE
Leading final standings from the 2018 New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships near Mosgiel:
Junior 14-16 years’ 250cc class: 1. Grason Veitch (Dunedin, KTM) 125 points (maximum); 2. Mitchell Stocker (Ashburton, KTM) 108; 3. Max Singleton (Nelson, Kawasaki) 90.
Junior 15-16 years’ 125cc class: 1. Tommy Watts (Wairoa, Husqvarna) 125 points (Maximum); 2. Grason Veitch (Dunedin, KTM) 104; 3. Joshua Bourke-Palmer (Rotorua, Yamaha) 96.
Junior 12-14 years’ 125cc class: 1. Brodie Connolly (Tauranga, KTM) 125 points (maximum); 2. Jack Treloar (Otautau, KTM) 110; 3. Ryan Webley (Auckland, KTM) 90.
Junior 13-16 years’ 85cc class: 1. Cobie Bourke (Rangiora, KTM) 110 points; 2. Ben Wall (Ashburton, Husqvarna) 94; 3. Luke Freemantle (Palmerston North, KTM) 88.
Junior 11-12 years’ 85cc class: 1. Tyler Wiremu (Darfield, KTM) 116 points; 2. Mitchell Weir (Tokanui, KTM) 112; 3. Jared Hannon (Cambridge, Kawasaki) 93.
Junior 8-10 years’ 85cc class: 1. Kobe Thoms (Leeston, KTM) 117 points; 2. Cole Davies (Auckland, KTM) 107; 3. Jack Coleman (Hamilton, Husqvarna) 103.
Junior 8-11 years’ 65cc (support) class: 1. Charlie Baynes (Invercargill, KTM) 75 (maximum); 2. Wills Harvey (Nelson, Kawasaki) 62; 3. Ryder Sheehan (Otatara, KTM) 60.