Helensville’s Tom Buxton was less than satisfied with finishing fourth overall in the pandemic-shortened New Zealand Enduro Championships last year and showed he was out to make amends for that at the weekend.
The 2021 edition of the nationals kicked with round one in damp and slippery forestry just 11-kilometres south of Tokoroa on Sunday with KTM rider Buxton (pictured here) wasting no time in getting down to work.
This was the first of what will be five rounds for the Yamaha-sponsored competition this season and Buxton has clearly signalled his intentions for 2021 … to finish on top.
The 23-year-old bull farmer took his 2021-model KTM 350 EXC-F to attack the difficult forestry course on Sunday and, after winning the second and third of the day’s five tightly-timed “terrain tests” (sprints), Buxton was already starting to take charge.
Buxton won the final terrain test as well, rubber-stamping his victory.
But the finish was tight in the end and, after nearly six hours of racing through the damp and slippery clay and pumice course, the tracks riddled with tricky tree roots and fallen logs, his nearest challenger and close friend Dylan Yearbury, from Cambridge, had posted a total time for the day that was only 25 seconds slower than that of Buxton.
Third best rider on the day was Palmerston North’s Paul Whibley, who finished just over a minute behind Yearbury, with Oparau teenager James Scott and Wainuiomata’s Jake Whitaker rounding out the top five finishers.
“I’m pretty happy with this result. I was happy that it was a bit wet today. I prefer riding in mud,” he laughed.
“It is very similar to Riverhead Forest (near my home) and I have always liked it here too. I had a good run through the tests and suffered no crashes.
“I had a really bad first round during last year’s series and that cost me a lot. I think I’ve made up for that here in Tokoroa. Hopefully I can carry this on.”
Yearbury (Husqvarna FE350) was equally upbeat about his result from the weekend.
“I’m happy with this result. It was slippery and I just battled hard all day. I never really knew how fast I was going compared to the other riders. I’m looking forward to the next round,” said the 26-year-old builder.
There will be little time for riders to rest, recover and prepare for the next outing – round two of the championship series is to be a two-dayer, set for just two weeks’ time, on April 24-25.
2021 NZ Enduro Champs calendar:
Round 1 – Saturday, April 11 – Tokoroa;
Round 2 – Saturday and Sunday, April 24-25 – Marlborough;
Round 3 – Saturday and Sunday June 5-6 – Moonshine, Kapi-Mana;
Round 4 – Saturday, June 12 – Masterton;
Round 5 – Sunday, June 13 – Martinborough.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
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