The 2021 New Zealand Enduro Championships will be long remembered as a classic nail-biter, with the fight for the ultimate prize going right down to the last few minutes of riding and the final few metres of turf.
The five-round Yamaha-sponsored series wrapped up with back-to-back events in the Wairarapa at the weekend – round four near Masterton on Saturday and the fifth and final round near Martinborough the following day – and two men in particular made it an especially thrilling double-header.
Cambridge’s Dylan Yearbury (Husqvarna) and Helensville’s Tom Buxton (KTM) had between them shared most of the winning this season, Yearbury compiling a 2-1-1-2 score-card over the first four rounds of the series and Buxton responding with 1-3-2-1 results.
This meant the overall crown would not be decided until the racing had been completed at the fifth and final round, late on Sunday afternoon.
In the end, it was Yearbury who prevailed, the man who was overall runner-up in the enduro champs last year – behind Kiwi international Hamish Macdonald, the Christchurch man not racing at home this season – grabbing the main trophy for 2021.
Whanganui’s 2019 national champion Seth Reardon (Yamaha) won the day at Martinborough on Sunday but the real focus was on the respective fortunes of Yearbury and Buxton.
Buxton finished ahead of Yearbury on Sunday, but Yearbury had done enough at the earlier events to squeak home with the overall championship win, with just 45 seconds between podium men Reardon, Buxton and Yearbury after a long and tortuous day on the unforgiving farmland and bush course at Martinborough.
And that, as they say, was that – Yearbury the champion and Buxton runner-up for 2021, while Reardon moved up one spot at Martinborough to claim third overall for the season.
The only other rider to achieve an outright first or second-placed finish all season was a remarkable young man making his debut in the sport, Oparau 19-year-old James Scott (Honda).
However, he finished an uncharacteristic 30th overall, after losing a massive 33 minutes because of a bent sprocket, at Martinborough and this cost him dearly and he slipped from third to fourth in the final series standings.
Equally impressive was Taupo teenager Wil Yeoman (Yamaha), the 2021 national junior cross-country champion finishing his enduro campaign fifth overall, just one point behind the luckless Scott, while at the same time winning the under-200cc two-stroke class.
The battle for individual bike class honours was also determined during the weekend’s final flurry, Yearbury adding the expert over-301cc four-stroke class win to his treasure trove for 2021, while Reardon clinched the expert under 300cc 4-stroke class, Cambridge’s Ashton Grey (Yamaha) won the expert over-201cc 2-stroke class and Tokoroa’s Sean Clarke (Husqvarna) grabbed the expert veterans’ over-40 years class crown.
In terms of capturing an individual class win, riders discarded their one worst result, ensuring the fight for class titles was intense until the end. However, all five rounds of the series were counted in determining the overall championship winner.
The various class winners this season were:
Cambridge’s Dylan Yearbury (Husqvarna, expert over-301cc 4-stroke class);
Whanganui’s Seth Reardon (Yamaha, expert under-300cc 4-stroke class);
Cambridge’s Aston Grey (Yamaha, expert over-201cc 2-stroke class);
Taupo’s Wil Yeoman (Yamaha, expert under-200cc 2-stroke class);
Tokoroa’s Sean Clarke (Husqvarna, expert veterans over-40 years class)
Auckland’s Julia Williams (KTM, women’s class);
Whangarei’s Joshua Alexander (KTM, intermediate over-201cc 2-stroke and over 301cc 4-stroke class);
Rotorua’s Harrison McClintock (KTM, intermediate under-200cc 2-stroke and under 300cc 4-stroke class);
Te Awamutu’s Phil Gibson (Husqvarna, intermediate veterans 40-49 years class);
Masterton’s George Callaghan (Yamaha, intermediate 50-54 years class);
Putaruru’s Phil Skinner (Husqvarna, intermediate veterans over-55 years class).
The 2021 Yamaha NZ Enduro Championships were supported by Mitas tyres Macaulay Metals, Best Build Construction, Silver-bullet and Kiwi Rider magazine.
© Photos by Kat Gunson and words by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
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