“Simply the best” and “unstoppable” were phrases used by the commentator to describe Cambridge’s Jared Hannon as he blitzed the field on his way to winning the 8-12 years’ 85cc class at the Kawasaki-sponsored annual New Zealand Mini TT Championships near Taupiri at the weekend.
One of only a few riders to dominate so comprehensively, the 12-year-old Te Miro Primary School pupil took his Kawasaki KX85 to show he truly was ready to make the next step up the age rankings, where he will officially be battling the man whom he fought with “unofficially” at Taupiri all weekend, Oparau’s Hunter Scott (KTM 85 SX), the winner of the elder age-group 13-16 years’ 85cc class.
Runner-up to Scott in the 13-16 years’ class was Paeroa’s Ashton Whyte, also riding a Kawasaki KX85.
The two 85cc classes were raced on the track together at Taupiri, but scored separately, and on each occasion it was Hannon and Scott out front and trading blows.
Hannon had finished third overall in the 11-12 years’ 85cc class at the New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships near Mosgiel last month and, with Hannon due to celebrate his 13th birthday before the 2019 junior nationals, next April, Scott and Hannon are set on a collision course for future junior titles.
Meanwhile, another Kawasaki rider from Cambridge, former world championship racer Damien King, was similarly dominant in winning his Veterans’ 35-44 years’ class at the weekend.
The 42-year-old father-of-two, who raced in Europe between the years 1996 and 2000 – with a career-best Grand Prix finish of fifth overall in Germany in 2000, then racing for a factory support team – was almost unbeatable on Saturday and Sunday.
He won all but one of his five veterans’ class races and was runner-up in the other one, earning the veterans’ title by a massive 26 points over Taupiri Honda rider Andrew Hansen.
“I don’t ride as often as I’d like to these days,” said King. “The KX450F is a great bike though and I ride it whenever I can. This is a great event too. Two days of racing dirt bikes on a track as cool as this is not to be missed.”
Also impressive in the distinctive green Kawasaki colour scheme was multi-time former national motocross champion Mike Cotter, the Cambridge man who is now general manager of Kawasaki New Zealand.
Despite having raced only once since December last year, the 43-year-old Cotter managed to finish an impressive fourth overall in the MX2 (250cc) class, the title eventually won on Sunday by 17-year-old recent former national champion Hayden Smith, the Husqvarna rider from Massey 26 years younger than Cotter and soon to race internationally.
Other class winners at the weekend were Taupo’s Cohen Chase (MX1 class); Oropi’s Ben Townley (senior 125 class); Te Awamutu’s Rachael Archer (women’s class); Hamilton’s Reef Wheki (Junior 12-16 years 125cc and 14-16 years 250cc class); Oparau’s Hunter Scott (Junior 13-16 years 85cc class); New Plymouth’s David Furze (Enduro class); Taupo’s Jake Tomblin (Classic bikes class); New Plymouth’s Mitch Rowe (Veterans’ over-45 years class); Stratford’s Scott Keegan (ATV premier grade); Patea’s Tyler Campbell (ATV 450cc production grade); Stratford’s Nicola Reid (ATV Veterans, over-40 years, grade).
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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