The New Plymouth teenager took his Johnston’s Husqvarna Team TE300 bike to set himself up for overall victory in the 2023 New Zealand Hard Enduro Championships with a solid third overall performance at the first of two rounds near Porirua back in September.
Then he proved that consistency counts most when he repeated the dose at the second round in Canterbury at the weekend to finally seal the deal.
Kiwi international Hamish Macdonald (Sherco), from West Melton, recently home from a successful season racing world championship enduro events in Europe, won Friday’s novel enduro-cross phase of this final round, staged within the A&P Showgrounds in Christchurch. Amberley’s national enduro champion Ethan McBreen (KTM 250XC) was runner-up, while the 17-year-old Parker impressed by finishing third.
Defending series champion Jake Whitaker (KTM 300EXC), from Wainuiomata, won Saturday’s Nutbuster enduro phase, held on farmland at Hawerden the following day, with Taranaki 21-year-old Daniel Herbert (KTM 250TPI) finishing runner-up, then Sam Parker third, with his 49-year-old father Tony Parker (Johnston’s Husqvarna Team TE300) rounding out the top four.
But Sam Parker’s two third placings over the two days earned him the round two win and, significantly, combined with his third overall at round one, it also gave him the series win overall.
Interestingly, Tony Parker had finished overall runner-up to Whitaker in this series last season, but the proud father was content to be beaten by his young son this time around.
“It was definitely a good weekend for me,” said Sam Parker afterwards.
“Consistency gave me the result I wanted. Saturday’s enduro was really tough, even with all the riders using GPS to navigate. The GPS was on the handlebars of the bike, but you really had to pay attention to the terrain as well as looking at the device. This meant it was actually quite difficult to race at a fast pace. It was just a matter of survival really.
“A lot of top guys dropped out. Of the 29 Gold Grade riders who started, only five of us managed to finish a full lap.
“This is a first major title win for me,” said an elated Sam Parker, a young man who has just completed his education at New Plymouth Boys’ High School and is about to begin a building apprenticeship in the New Year.
The weekend’s national event in Canterbury doubled up as round two of the South Island Hard Enduro Championships and Sam Parker was also declared winner of that separate-but-parallel series.
The depth of talent in this sporting code runs deep in New Zealand and, although Sam Parker impressed with his outright victory, he would be the first to tell you that nothing can be taken for granted in hard enduro racing.
“Next weekend I race at round two of the New Zealand Cross-country Championships. I only finished seventh overall at round one. I was a bit off the pace, but perhaps I’ll have the momentum to carry into that (four-round) series.”
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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