Aussies take narrow win over the Kiwis
It was Trans-Tasman rivalry at its best over the long Labour Weekend as the moto trials top guns from Australia and New Zealand locked horns in Canterbury.
The 2018 FIM Oceania Trials Championships were run in conjunction with the New Zealand Moto Trials Championships near Christchurch over Saturday, Sunday and Monday and provided epic international entertainment for fans of this unique motorcycling sports code.
This added significance of the event carrying FIM Oceania status meant there was plenty riding on every "foot dab" that a rider made, with the aim of the sport being to traverse difficult terrain on the motorcycle, without touching the ground with his or her feet, stalling the bike's engine or otherwise failing to complete the set course.
With this branch of motorcycling, the emphasis is not on speed, but on fine balance, bravery and throttle control, with sharp rocks, slippery tree roots, treacherous creek beds and steep hills mere judder bars on the path for these bike riders.
Australian visitor Kevin Zarcynski won the New Zealand Experts Grade title, out-scoring Christchurch's Jules Huguenin, Taranaki's Matt Foster and Wellington's 14-year-old rising star Dylan Ball.
And, in the battle for the 2018 FIM Oceania Challenge trophy, it was the three nominated Australian riders – Zarcynski, Tom Woodhouse and Sarah Chivers – who prevailed.
The battle was close and the three New Zealand representatives for the Oceania Challenge – Huguenin, Taranaki's Daniel Herbert and Hunterville's Hannah Rushworth – fell just one point short of their Australian rivals.
New Zealand won the FIM Oceania Trial Championship Cup and Shield when this competition was held in the Barossa Valley, near Adelaide, last year.
"This year was a fantastic opportunity to come to New Zealand and compete on foreign soil for a change," said Zarcynski.
"It was a chance to start a foundation for some competition between these two countries."
Motorcycling New Zealand moto trials commissioner Sandra Hallie said the event was well-contested in all classes at three different venues, in and around Banks Peninsula.
"The Australian team took out the first day, but the New Zealand team managed to claw their way back into contention on day two, so scores were even. It was the winner of the third and final day that would decide the 2018 FIM Oceania Trials Championship.
"With Kevin Zarczynski losing only four points on the third lap, defending champions New Zealand faced defeat and the Australians took home the silverware for this year.
"The battle resumes next year in Tasmania."
The other national title winners at the weekend were Ashhurst's Kevin Pinfold (Intermediate Grade); Rushworth (Women's Grade); Ball (Junior Grade); Northcote's Ray Skinner (Presidents' Grade); Blenheim's Liam Falconer (Clubman's Grade) and Tasmania's Kurt Pickering (Twin Shock Class).