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Motocrosser Kieran Leigh Back From Australia

Motocrosser Kieran Leigh Back From Australia

Early April, 16 year old Junior Kieran Leigh from Cambridge was given the opportunity to ride in the then forthcoming Australian Under 19's Championship - the opening was due to Hamish going to Europe but Kieran still had to qualify at Conondale.

That meant that he would turn Senior after the NZ Juniors and ride for Darryll King's Subway Yamaha Team.

Kieran was a Year 12 (6th Form) student at St Peters College near Cambridge. He had already accumulated enough credits to receive his NCEA2 and was given approval to leave school that term and concentrate on the big task at hand. With Leigh going Senior another chapter in his motocross career ends. Chris Bailey from Ngahinepouri (west of Hamilton) stepped aside as his mechanic and sponsor. Chris was formerly Nigel Smith's right hand man and would now dedicate his time to his own son Campbell, a Junior YZF250 rider and member of the Yamaha Junior Development squad.

Kieran had an impressive track record to date but was on the comeback from injury. At the Round 2 NZ Supercross Champs at Tokoroa he broke his lower right arm with what is termed a green stick fracture. Then at Manukau's Round 3, still with the break heavily strapped he separated his AC joint - the ligament that holds the top of the arm and the shoulder together.

With those injuries behind him he certainly showed great pace at the Junior Nats at Otorohanga in the

15-16yrs 125cc Class but the title eluded him. After seven races he came home 2nd, only 10 points behind Ethan Martens. Martens, only a fortnight before, had surprised everyone with a move from Yamaha to KTM.

The Australian Under 19's was a series of 6 races from 18 May in Perth to 03 August in Coolum, Queensland. Kieran was accompanied throughout by his mother Leanne whilst dad Kev looked after the family business and sister Shannon. Shaz was lucky enough to go to Coolum.

They arrived home last night (06 August) much wiser for the experience. I spoke to Leanne:

"Whilst Kieran finished 21st overall out of 60 that entered, that result did not tell of some great personal milestones. For instance at Coolum he was 31st in Race 1 but he actually got the holeshot and led the entire lap. Then at lap 2 had dropped to 4th, then 5th for 4 laps, then failed to start again until the last lap - hence the 31st. "

"Luck certainly eluded Kieran and there were times where he showed great speed. For instance at The Lakes he was right on the pace but ran out of brakes. At Raymond Terrace he was on Damien King's bike and was flying. It was too hard in the suspension and he went over the bars big time."

"He had many crashes, some of his own doing and others were 'welcome to the big time !!!' Then, just when he was going well he would have a bike technical problem due to our inexperience. That would affect his confidence so it has been a big learning curve. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. The fact is the Aussie boys are fast and they have such huge depth and for Kieran going into the Senior Nationals here, it was an invaluable experience." Leanne continued.

"Would you go back ?" I asked.

"Yes, definitely, but hopefully we will be far better organised with the bike set-up and take a mechanic. You simply must have a 'factory' setup. In hindsight I should have been better organised. It was short notice and Kieran needed to be training six months out. Kieran stayed with Matt Ryan (3rd overall) and trained with him but was always playing catch-up. Everyone said to us that year one is a learning curve and of course we wanted to walk before we could run" responded Leanne enthusiastically.

"We had a lot of support as well. Peter Payne from Yamaha NZ could not do enough and has been extremely supportive. Scott Bishop from the Yamaha Under 19's Team was just awesome and his mechanic Darren Thompson was very very helpful."

Kieran will now have a break before readying himself for the NZ Motocross Nationals.


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