The cream of the crop descended on Taranaki at the weekend for the 2022 edition of the New Zealand ATV Motocross Championships and they delivered intense race action of the highest order.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic created a two-year hiatus for the sport of quad bike racing, so the scene was buzzing with excitement when racers arrived at the Barrett Road Motorcycle Park facility, on the outskirts of New Plymouth, for the 2022 New Zealand ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) Motocross Championships over the Saturday and Sunday of Labour Weekend.
The Mach1 Yamaha-sponsored 2022 ATV MX nationals feature five races for each of the various classes over the two days and this tested even the fittest and most capable of riders.
It may almost have been predictable, but the Taranaki’s defending national champion Camo Keegan was again the standout individual.
The 33-year-old from Stratford was simply unstoppable, winning all five of his races in the premier grade at the weekend and adding a seventh national title to his trophy cabinet.
Although Keegan did manage to defend his title in the premier grade, he was never able to relax with his 31-year-old brother Scott Keegan, the rider from Tariki who was the national ATV champion in 2015, the Whitelock brothers, Devan and Corey and multi-time former national ATV champion Ian Ffitch, from Amberley, keeping him honest throughout.
“It may have looked like I had everything under control, but it really wasn’t that easy,” said Camo Keegan afterwards.
“I lost first gear on my bike when I blew something in the gearbox near the end of race two. I still managed to finish and win the race, but it was a worry.
“Scott and I were pretty close together on the track but I think, with the longer races, my fitness gave me the edge over him in the end. I had been training pretty hard for this event, so I seemed to have plenty of breathing room.
“The track was awesome, so well prepared by Dave White, and it was so much fun to ride.”
However, possibly the closest racing came in the 450cc Production class with Dunedin’s Devan Whitelock and Christchurch’s Taylor Graham locked together on identical points after the first day and the battle between them went right down to the final race of the weekend, Whitelock eventually taking the title.
Other class winners at the weekend were Stratford’s Nicola Reid (Women’s class); Christchurch’s Greg Graham (Veterans); Christchurch’s Harrison Graham (250cc Production); Springston’s Conner Brocherie (125cc Production) and Auckland’s Darren Emm (Clubmans).
Christchurch’s Mason Bucknell was Mini Kids champion and Christchurch’s Bailey Graham was winner of the Ffitch Under-21 Cup.
“It was a fantastic event with a high level of riding skill on display, an awesome track prepared allowing for some fierce competition through all grades,” said Motorcycling New Zealand ATV commissioner Olaf Bovendeerd, from Rakaia.
“A special thanks goes to the host Taranaki Motorcycle Club for use of the facilities and to Motorcycling New Zealand for their support and representation at the event. My congratulations to all event winners and well done to those who all participated to make the event what it was.”
The 2022 New Zealand ATV MX Championships were supported by Mach1 Yamaha, Reid Recovery, Keegan Electrical, Bailey Motorcycles and Dismantlers, 2brothers Racing, JK Fabrication and Engineering, 2 Stroke Twin Smoke Racing, Honda Hub and Hinton Contracting.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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