And when the dust finally settled on the Yamaha-sponsored series, it was Cambridge’s Dylan Yearbury (Husqvarna) who had emerged as winner in the elite Gold Grade, eventually edging out Wainuiomata’s Jake Whitaker (KTM) by the narrowest of margins, a solitary point.
Third overall was Helensville’s Tom Buxton (KTM).
Whitaker had led the series from the opening round near Wellington in September, but Yearbury (pictured above) was simply too sharp at the rounds that followed and had soon reduced the margin to just a handful of points as the riders headed down to the South Island’s sole event, the double-header fourth and final round near Christchurch on Saturday and Sunday.
The four-round series came down to the final throw of the dice and, when Yearbury won outright at both Saturday’s enduro sprint prologue and Sunday’s Nut Buster hard enduro, the series crown was his.
An injury had forced Yearbury to skip round one of the series at Wellington, but he won both the following two events, in Whangamata, also in September, and then in Hawke’s Bay two weeks ago.
With only three of the four rounds of the championship to be counted and riders to discard their one worst score from the three North Island rounds, it was always going to be a tight affair.
Motorcycling New Zealand enduro commissioner Justin Stevenson said it had been a “brilliant weekend”, with Saturday’s new sprint enduro format very popular with the riders and spectators alike.
“I think this is a format that we’d like to keep for next year too.” he said.
“There were four separate races over the eight-kilometre course and it was similar to a rally sprint, with riders set off on the course at 15-second intervals, their accumulated times after the four races to determine final positions.”
Riders had nominated themselves as either Gold, Silver or Bronze Grade competitors, depending upon their skill and fitness levels, with the grades each scored separately.
In the Silver Grade, Taupo rider Wil Yeoman (Yamaha) continued to dominate as he had almost from the start of the series, easily winning the series ahead of Canterbury brothers Cody and Luke Corson (both on KTM bikes) respectively.
Whangamata’s Ethan Jameson (Husqvarna), New Plymouth’s Sam Parker (KTM) and Rerewhakaaitu’s Zach Sefuiva (KTM) respectively took the top three spots in the Bronze Grade.
“It was great to see such a close finish in the Gold Grade. It just shows that anyone could have won it, but the top riders really were in a class all of their own.
“We can see some young riders coming through and no doubt a few of the Silver Grade riders will step up to the Gold Grade next season. The sport is in a healthy state and I was happy to see more than 140 riders entered for the final round of the series. Those are pretty good numbers at this level of competition.”
The 2020 Yamaha NZ Extreme Off-Road Championships were supported by Mitas tyres, Macaulay Metals, Best Build Construction, Silver-bullet and Kiwi Rider magazine.
The 2020 NZ Extreme Off-Road Championship calendar:
Round one: September 13, Moonshine Extreme, Bulls Run Rd, Porirua.
Round two: September 26, Taungatara Forest, Whangamata.
Round three: October 31-November 1, Over The Top, Hawke’s Bay.
Round four: November 14-15, Nut Buster, Oxford, Christchurch.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
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