Enduro Championships Mark Re-start For Bike Racing
JUNE 8, 2020: The 2020 New Zealand Enduro Championships kick off in the Wairarapa region this weekend and it's again going to take a special individual to claim the top prize.
Because the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic ate into the calendar this year, forcing a 10-week postponement to racing as the country went into lock-down, a revised schedule had to be formulated, the compact series this year comprising just four rounds over two separate weekends.
This means racing will be particularly intense this season, with increased pressure to perform adding to the stress of this already demanding sport and the elimination of mistakes even more vital.
Rounds one and two are in Masterton and Martinborough respectively this Saturday and Sunday, while rounds three and four will both be held in the Santoft Forest, near Palmerston North, on consecutive days next month.
The Yamaha-sponsored 2020 series will be another stern test for both man and machine, while riders who maintained their fitness during lock-down likely to gain the most.
"It is going to be two contrasting weekends of racing, with slushy dirt in the Wairarapa this weekend coming, to sandy pine forest at Santoft Forest the following month," said Motorcycling New Zealand enduro commissioner, Central Enduro Series co-ordinator and Kapi-Mana Motorcycle Club enduro co-ordinator Justin Stevenson, of Porirua.
"It is good to have events up and running again and, with a little bit of luck, we'll be at COVID-19 Level One restrictions by the time we race the events.
"There has been a lot of interest in the enduro championships and we have on-line entries now up and running. We'll be doing it this way from now on."
There are plenty of talented riders who might feature again this season.
Defending champion Seth Reardon, from Whanganui can expect a tough challenge from Taupo's two-time former champion Brad Groombridge, multi-time national trial champion Jake Whitaker, from Wainuiomata, world enduro championship contender Hamish Macdonald, the Christchurch man currently back from Europe, Helensville's Tom Buxton and Manawatu's Paul Whibley, to name just a few.
Whitianga's Blake Wilkins and Whangamata's Jason Davis could also threaten.
Others to watch out for include Thames rider Natasha Cairns, Taumarunui's Cody Davey, Eketahuna's Charlie Richardson, Tokoroa's Jake Wightman, Rotorua's Bradley Lauder, Cambridge's Dylan Yearbury, Taupo's Nathan Tesselaar, Rotorua's Ethan Harris, Cambridge's Ashton Grey, New Plymouth's Tony Parker and perhaps even cross-country ace Sam 'Charlie' Brown, from Glen Murray.
Motorcycling New Zealand president Noel May said he was thrilled to see top level motorcycle racing underway again in New Zealand.
"A huge thanks from all members must go to Justin Stevenson for the massive effort he has put in to plan a restart to racing under strict COVID-19 conditions," said May.
"Good luck to all the members racing but please remember to thank Justin and his team of volunteers whose efforts allow you to do what we are all passionate about racing our bikes."
The 2020 Yamaha NZ Enduro Championships are supported by Mitas tyres Macaulay Metals, Best Build Construction, Silver-bullet and Kiwi Rider magazine.
2020 NZ Enduro Champs calendar:
Round 1 – Saturday, June 13 – 366 Mangarei Road, Masterton
Round 2 – Sunday, June 14 - Ruakokoputuna Hall, Martinborough
Round 3 – Saturday, July 11 – Santoft Forest
Round 4 – Sunday, July 12 – Santoft Forest
Click HERE for a video clip from last year's Martinborough enduro.
Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com