The first half of the Yamaha-sponsored competition has been dominated thus far by Wainuiomata rider Jake Whitaker, but anything can still happen and all the other title contenders will be mindful of that when racing kicks off in Christchurch on Friday.
Hosted by the Christchurch Off-Road Motorcycle Club, this weekend’s two-dayer will begin on Friday with the Enduro X Prologue at the A&P Showgrounds in Christchurch, while the riders head to Mt Selfe, 1210 Lake Sumner Road, Hawerden, for the Nut Buster hard enduro the following day.
With two wins from two starts in the previous rounds, at Porirua and Whangamata respectively, multi-time national champion Whitaker (KTM 300 EXC) leads the elite Gold Class, although he has New Plymouth’s Tony Parker (Husqvarna TE300, pictured here) and Inglewood’s Luke Thompson (Husqvarna TE300) breathing down his neck.
Other riders who may be in contention for Gold Grade honours this season include Whitecliffs rider Luke Corson (Beta RR300), Whangamata’s Ethan Jameson (Husqvarna TE250), Aucklander Tausten Gibbs (Husqvarna TE300), Porirua’s Dylan Ball (Beta 300) and Taupo’s Wil Yeoman (Yamaha YZ250X).
In the Silver Grade, riders to watch out for this weekend may include Auckland’s Ryan Hayward (KTM250), Amberley’s Archer Pascoe (GasGas EC300), New Plymouth’s Sam Parker (Husqvarna TX150), Whitianga’s James Kerr (KTM300EXC) and Whangaparoa’s Jacob Refoy (KTM 250 EXC).
Some of the best of the Bronze Grade riders so far include Te Awamutu’s Jesse Ramsey (Husqvarna TE150), Te Awamutu’s Graham Ramsey (KTM 250EXC), Whangaparoa’s Jon Refoy (KTM 150 EXC), Colville’s Blake Evans (KTM150XC), Dannevirke’s Anders Easton (Husqvarna TE150) and Te Awamutu’s Phil Gibson (Husqvarna TE300).
Only three of the four rounds of the championship are to be counted, with riders to discard their one worst score from the three North Island rounds, making this weekend’s two-day contest in Canterbury a hugely significant one in the overall scheme of things.
Motorcycling New Zealand enduro commissioner Justin Stevenson said the series was “proving very popular and there are high numbers of riders entered for this weekend’s event too”.
“Riders nominate themselves as either Gold, Silver or Bronze Grade competitors, depending upon their skill and fitness levels, and that’s the course they will be assigned to tackle, with the grades each scored separately.”
Bronze Grade riders are expected to be “competent trail riders”. Course difficulty is similar to a regular enduro, but “with some slightly harder sections”.
The competition is marginally tougher for the Silver Grade riders, with a good skill level and fitness required to get them to the finish.
Stevenson said the aim of the Extreme Off Road Championship Series is to provide events that will be designed using the available terrain to be extremely challenging for the riders and an ultimate test for the riders’ ability and skills.
The 2022 Yamaha NZ Extreme Off-Road Championships are supported by Mitas tyres, Macaulay Metals, Silver-bullet and Kiwi Rider magazine.
2022 Yamaha NZ Extreme Off-Road Championship calendar:
Round one: September 13, Moonshine Extreme, Bulls Run Rd, Porirua;
Round two: September 25, Taungatara Forest, Whangamata;
Round three: November 11-12, Nutbuster, Oxford, Christchurch;
Round four: November 27, Moonshine Extreme, Bulls Run Rd, Porirua.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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A little video footage from the 2020 Nut Buster Hard Enduro can be seen here: