Riders from all the various dirt bike codes – including a few road-racers too – will likely flock to the popular course at Taupiri, just north of Hamilton, this coming Saturday and Sunday for the TT nationals.
TT racing is like superbike racing on soil instead of tarmac – the racing is off-road and the competitors use dirt bikes or quad bikes, but, unlike motocross, there are no steep hills or skyward launch ramps to slow things down.
The Kawasaki-sponsored event typically attracts champions of the past and present – and possibly the future too – and it has always delivered the highest quality of dirt bike racing entertainment. The host Patetonga Motorcycle Club is renowned for preparing the track perfectly and running proceedings like clockwork.
The grassland track will allow the riders to reach eye-watering speeds, the two-day event near Huntly expected to push the racers to their limits, particularly when the mostly flat grassland paddock becomes rougher with each successive race.
With riders almost equal in the horsepower stakes, it is the riders who start fastest, accelerate soonest and brake latest who will benefit the most.
The event will again be staged on rolling farm property at 456 Rutherfurd Road, Taupiri, made available by land owner Mark Fuller, who is a former national enduro and cross-country frontrunner and the father of rising star on the road-race scene, the 2021 national 600cc Supersport class No.3 Zak Fuller, a ranking that he remarkably achieved on his debut in the class this year.
Zak Fuller’s younger sister, Billee Fuller, is also a multi-talented motorcycle racer and a likely starter this weekend. She regularly races motocross and this season again raced a road bike on the tarmac too, where she won the GIXXER Cup competition, a component of the New Zealand Superbike Championships’ programme.
There is little doubt that this father, son and daughter trio will also be racing at the TT nationals this weekend.
“We are grateful that the Patetonga club has again stepped up to host the TT Champs and next year we are looking to run the event in the South Island,” said Motorcycling New Zealand motocross commissioner Ray Broad.
“We are pleased that so many riders support this event. It’s a great two days. There’s normally camping at the track and bonfire at night, so it’s more of a fun, family atmosphere. It’s good to be able to offer a more natural terrain motocross meeting to MNZ members.”
There were several dominant performances at this event last season, with Mount Maunganui’s Josiah Natzke unbeatable in both the premier MX1 and MX2 bike classes, New Plymouth’s Mitch Rowe almost unstoppable in three separate categories (veterans’ over-45 years, classic pre-1996 bikes and MX3), Stratford’s Camo Keegan untouchable in the ATV quad bike races, while Red Beach’s Joseph Andrell successfully defended his senior 125cc crown and Hamilton’s Amie Roberts was clearly best of the senior women.
Other class winners last year were Te Kauwhata’s Matthew Vining (veterans aged 40-44 years); Raetihi’s Karaitiana Horne (junior women); Horotiu’s Carter Hanes (junior 250cc); Pukekawa’s Tyler Brown (junior 12-16 years’ 125cc); Cambridge’s Jared Hannon (junior 12-16 years’ 85cc); Taupo’s Declan Connors (junior 8-11 years’ 85cc); Hamilton’s Mikayla Rowe (class pre-2001 bikes); Scott Taylor (enduro bikes); Waitara’s Ollie Payne (mini 65cc); Helensville’s Adam Bockett (mini 50cc) and we could possibly expect some of these same individuals to be stand-outs this coming weekend too.
With racing for 10 separate championship classes over the two days, as well as support classes being run, the term “flat track” may be a little misleading, with the track expected to be rough and rutted by late Sunday afternoon, when rider fitness will play as much a part in the outcomes as any riders’ bravery, skill or horsepower advantage.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
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