The 25-year-old builder from Cambridge, a former extreme enduro championship winner in New Zealand, is leading the way after the opening two rounds of the 2020 New Zealand Enduro Championships at the weekend and he says the trick now will be to ensure he’s still shining brightly in a month’s time.
The enduro nationals got off to a late but welcome start at the weekend with two back-to-back events in the Wairarapa region and Yearbury and his new Husqvarna TE300i bike were at the forefront on both occasions.
Record entries greeted organisers for both days of this high-profile dirt bike competition – round one near Masterton on Saturday and round two near Martinborough on Sunday – possibly boosted by the fact that this was the first major motorcycling event to be staged since restrictions were lifted after 10 weeks of sporting inactivity due to the Coronavirus COVID19 pandemic lock-down.
A revised schedule had been formulated to ensure the championships could still be squeezed into the shortened calendar, the compact Yamaha-sponsored series this year comprising just four rounds over two separate weekends, with second half of the series, rounds three and four, coming up in the Santoft Forest, near Bulls, on the weekend of July 11-12.
This compressed season means racing was expected to be particularly intense and that’s exactly what transpired in Masterton and Martinborough at the weekend, Kiwi international Yearbury winning day one and Whanganui’s defending champion Seth Reardon (Yamaha) winning day two.
Reardon finished third overall on Saturday, while Yearbury managed a runner-up finish on Sunday and it is therefore Yearbury who has the early points advantage over Reardon in these early stages of the 2020 title chase.
Another globe-trotting Kiwi competitor, Christchurch’s Hamish Macdonald (Sherco), holds onto third overall after the two days of racing – he finished runner-up on Saturday and third overall on Sunday – and so early indications are that it will likely be a three-way battle for the crown when it all wraps up at Santoft next month.
“I am pretty happy with how my weekend went,” said Yearbury.
“I was sort of surprised I went so well actually because I had been concussed while racing in the Grand National Cross-country Championships in the United States, just before the COVID lock-down here in New Zealand, and had only had one ride on the new bike for the first time last weekend.
“But I love this (300cc electronic fuel-injected two-stroke) bike and, even completely stock standard, it is all that I could want. I only picked up the bike Friday a week ago, but I’ve gelled with it straight away.
“I have never before raced in the Santoft Forest, so the races coming up could be very interesting, but I am feeling confident that I can finish off the series with a national title win.”
Other stand-out riders at the weekend included Raglan’s Jason Dickey (Beta), Helensville’s Tom Buxton (KTM), Palmerston North’s Paul Whibley (Yamaha), Oparau’s James Scott (Yamaha) and Thames rider Jason Davis (Husqvarna).
“Day one was a tough one for the riders and day two was less so, but they were both challenging” said Motorcycling New Zealand enduro commissioner Justin Stevenson, of Porirua.
The host clubs, the Bush Riders Motorcycle Club and the Kapi-Mana Motorcycle club, and the Ruakokoputuna Hall committee people too, did a great job to organise these two events. The terrain was varied and the tracks were well marked too.
“We had a record number of entries and, although freedom from the COVID lock-down probably contributed to that, it still shows the sport is in a very healthy state. I’m sure we will see a great number of riders showing up to race in the Santoft Forest too.”
The 2020 Yamaha NZ Enduro Championships are supported by Mitas tyres Macaulay Metals, Best Build Construction, Silver-bullet and Kiwi Rider magazine.
2020 NZ Enduro Champs calendar:
Round 1 – Saturday, June 13 – Masterton
Round 2 – Sunday, June 14 – Martinborough
Round 3 – Saturday, July 11 – Santoft Forest
Round 4 – Sunday, July 12 – Santoft Forest
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
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