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Top Bike Riders On Trial

Top Bike Riders On Trial

Taranaki’s Wayne Thompson, expected to feature in the elite Expert
class this weekend. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

MAY 15, 2007: The most well-balanced men in the country are expected in the
Manawatu region this weekend.

New Zealand’s top motorcycling talent arrives to contest rounds five and six
of the 2007 North Island Trials Championships -- on Saturday just north-west
of Woodville and on Sunday near Linton – with the two days marking the
halfway stage in the popular 10-round series.

Rounds seven and eight are set for Hamilton on June 23-24, with the series
wrapping up with rounds nine and 10 in the Taranaki region on August 4-5.

Thus far it has been a battle between national champion Warren Laugesen
(Levin) and rising star Jake Whitaker (Wellington) in the elite Expert
class, honours shared between the mentor and his young protégé, but injury
has since forced Whitaker to the sideline.

Instead it will be left to experienced Expert class campaigners Luke March
(Hawke’s Bay), Wayne Thompson (Taranaki) and Shane Clark (Wellington) to
keep the 33-year-old Laugesen on his toes. Riders are entered from Kaikohe
in the north and from the South Island.

“I can’t see anyone getting close to Warren (Laugesen),” said event
organiser Kevin Pinfold (Ashhurst). “But it won’t be easy for Warren either.
I like to set tough courses and Saturday’s event features plenty of tree
roots to catch the riders out. Sunday’s course is in a quarry filled with
large rocks.

“Riders could get cut quite badly if they get it all wrong.”

in addition, it will be Laugesen’s first outing on the new four-stroke
Yamaha-engined French Scorpa bike and, while the champion takes time to
settle in and get used to the bike’s characteristics, his rivals may take
advantage.

But Pinfold, himself a leading contender in the A-grade class, doubts it
will take Laugesen long to adapt.

“He’s been on a two-stroke for years and having a new bike might slow him
down for a bit but he’ll still make it (the bike) talk.”

Pinfold leads the A-grade category despite not winning a round, his
consistency the telling factor, but he’s determined to win his local events.

Pinfold expects a stern challenge from Wellington’s Rory Mead, Nelson’s Nick
Oliver, Wellington’s Carl Robson and 18-year-old Warrick George, from
Colyton, who has moved to A-grade this year after winning the North Island
Intermediate Championship last season.

Mead is an extremely versatile rider and he currently leads the national
enduro championship series in the under-200cc class, showing his ability to
also ride motorcycles across rough ground at high speed.

The emphasis won’t be on speed this weekend, however, with the prime aim to
conquer the extreme terrain without touching feet on the ground or falling
off. Points are lost for these “faults” and riders with the lowest score
win.

Palmerston North’s Peter Van Dingenen will be a contender for a top-three
placing in the over-40s Presidents grade, as will Andy Anderson (Feilding)
in the Clubmans grade.

Palmerston North’s Tony Smith will be riding the hotly-contested
Intermediate grade, where he will be looking to finish in the top half of
the field. The Social grade includes Pahiatua rider Phil Stephenson, who
could expect a top three placing.

Access to both days’ riding will be signposted from the respective main
roads. There is no charge for spectators. Riding starts at 10am on both
days.

Ends


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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