2020 Yamaha Extreme Off-Road Championship
This year’s edition of the New Zealand Extreme Off-Road Championship series will go down to the wire in the South Island this weekend.
The four-round Yamaha-sponsored competition has been a colossal see-saw battle, offering something for everyone with different categories for various skill levels, and it will attract the nation’s elite enduro and cross-country riders to Canterbury for the double-header fourth and final round this Saturday and Sunday.
Hosted by the Christchurch Off-Road Motorcycle Club, this weekend’s two-dayer will begin on Saturday with an enduro sprint prologue at Foster’s Property, Overtons Rd, Scargill, North Canterbury (signposted from the Greta Valley turnoff), while riders head to Trig Road, Oxford (signposted from the Waimakariri Gorge Bridge and Oxford), for the Nut Buster hard enduro the following day.
Wainuiomata’s Jake Whitaker currently leads the elite Gold Class and he has Helensville’s Tommy Buxton and New Plymouth’s Tony Parker breathing down his neck, although it will possibly be Cambridge’s Dylan Yearbury, fourth in the standings after the earlier rounds, whom Whitaker should respect most.
An injury forced Yearbury to skip round one of the series in Wellington in September, but he won both the following two events, in Whangamata, also in September, and then in Hawke’s Bay two weeks ago.
Only three of the four rounds of the championship are to be counted, with riders to discard their one worst score from the three North Island rounds, making this weekend’s contest in Canterbury a hugely significant one in the overall scheme of things.
Yearbury will obviously nominate his no-show at round one as his ‘discard’ event and this puts him firmly in contention to win outright if he can head off the likes of Whitaker, Buxton and Parker this weekend.
Motorcycling New Zealand enduro commissioner Justin Stevenson said the series was “proving popular, considering the year we’ve had, and there are unexpectedly high number of pre-entries for the final,” with more than 140 riders entered already.
“It will be a slightly different format this year from what we’ve run previously, with a sprint event on Saturday, followed by a traditional hard enduro on Sunday. It will really test the riders’ capabilities.”
Riders nominate themselves as either Gold, Silver or Bronze Grade competitors, depending upon their skill and fitness levels, and that’s the course they will be assigned to tackle, with the grades each scored separately.
Bronze Grade riders are expected to be “competent trail riders”. Course difficulty will be similar to an enduro, but “with some slightly harder sections”.
The competition will be slightly tougher for the Silver Grade riders, with a good skill level and fitness required to get them to the finish.
Stevenson said the Gold Grade course would severely test the nation’s elite.
In the Silver Grade, Taupo rider Wil Yeoman leads after three rounds, just ahead of Canterbury brothers Luke and Cody Corson.
Rerewhakaaitu’s Zach Sefuiva, Whangamata’s Ethan Jameson and New Plymouth’s Sam Parker hold the top positions in the Bronze Class after three rounds.
The 2020 Yamaha NZ Extreme Off-Road Championships are supported by Mitas tyres, Macaulay Metals, Best Build Construction, Silver-bullet and Kiwi Rider magazine.
The 2020 NZ Extreme Off-Road Championship calendar:
Round one: September 13, Moonshine Extreme, Bulls Run Rd, Porirua.
Round two: September 26, Taungatara Forest, Whangamata.
Round three: October 31-November 1, Over The Top, Hawke’s Bay.
Round four: November 14-15, Nut Buster, Oxford, Christchurch.
PHOTO: Taupo’s Wil Yeoman (Yamaha), a rider to watch out for in the Silver Grade battles this weekend. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com