2021 Yamaha NZ Enduro Championships

CAPTION: Napier-based Wairoa man Tommy Watts (Yamaha YZF450), on the charge for national enduro honours this season. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

It could truly be the “battle of the rookies” by the time the 2021 New Zealand Enduro Championships wrap up in the Wairarapa region in just a few weeks’ time.

Oparau’s James Scott and Napier-based former Wairoa man Tommy Watts are relative novices when it comes to enduro bike racing, but, just a handful of races into their 2021 enduro campaigns, they have both been able to humble some of the established stars of the sport.

Round three of the Yamaha-sponsored series, another double-header, is scheduled for Moonshine Valley, near the Kapiti Coast, halfway between Porirua and Upper Hutt, this coming Queen’s Birthday Weekend, June 5-6, and Scott and Watts have now shown they will surely be a couple of riders worth watching out for.

Scott has even managed to put himself on the top step of the podium this season.

The talented 19-year-old, a fencing contractor during the week and motocross star at the weekends, tackled his first ever enduro event just last year and it’s hard to believe he’s actually a rookie after seeing his recent results – at round one of the series near Tokoroa in early April and the double-header, two-day second round in Marlborough three weeks later.

Scott, the 2021 national 250cc motocross No.2, finished fourth overall at round one of the enduro nationals near Tokoroa and then, encouraged by that success, he headed south for the two-dayer in Marlborough.

Scott finished fifth overall on Saturday’s first of two days of racing in Marlborough, but then stunned everyone he won day two outright, finishing 54 seconds overall ahead of Cambridge’s national enduro No.2 Dylan Yearbury.

Yearbury had won the previous day and so these combined results gave Yearbury the overall win for the weekend, with Scott finishing runner-up and Helensville’s Tom Buxton claiming third.

So, after two of five rounds thus far, Yearbury is in the No.1 position for the championship overall, with Buxton in second and Scott now holding onto third overall.

“I rode the enduro nationals last year just for fun, but now I can see I’m going well enough to take it more seriously,” said Scott.

“If I can keep my momentum up, I know I can do well in the enduro champs. It’s a great activity for my motocross off-season. It helps me to improve my skills and teaches me how to ride the more difficult terrain (than motocross).”

As for fellow teenager Watts, he also comes from a motocross background, although cross-country racing could also be described as his forte, having won the New Zealand Cross-country Championships overall for the first time earlier this year.

The 19-year-old Watts scored his best enduro result, a third overall on the first of two days in Marlborough in April, but, because he crashed and failed to finish day two in Marlborough, he is currently positioned only 18th overall in the series.

Other riders to impress in the series thus far include Palmerston North’s Paul Whibley, Whanganui’s Seth Reardon, Taupo’s Wil Yeoman, Omihi’s Ethan McBreen and Tokoroa’s Jake Wightman, to name a few, and the battle for outright honours remains tight.

All rounds are counted towards the championship overall, but riders are to count only four of their five results in terms of capturing an individual class win, ensuring it will also be tight to the finish in the chase for bike class honours.

The venue for the weekend’s event, on steep forest land off Moonshine Road, will be signposted from State Highway 58 (Haywards Hill Road) and it’s probably hard to believe that such rugged terrain can be found so close to New Zealand’s Capital city.

The 2021 Yamaha NZ Enduro Championships are supported by Mitas tyres Macaulay Metals, Best Build Construction, Silver-bullet and Kiwi Rider magazine.

2021 Yamaha NZ Enduro Champs calendar:

Round 1 – Saturday, April 11 – Tokoroa;

Round 2 – Saturday and Sunday, April 24-25 – Marlborough;

Round 3 – Saturday and Sunday June 5-6 – Moonshine, Kapi-Mana;

Round 4 – Saturday, June 12 – Masterton;

Round 5 – Sunday, June 13 – Martinborough.

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com