CAPTION: Hawke’s Bay’s Tommy Watts (Yamaha), outright winner of the senior grade at last year’s New Zealand Cross-country Championships. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
It didn’t happen at all when the pandemic impacted sports in 2020, but it was resurrected in 2021 and now the New Zealand Cross-country Championships will run again in 2022 … albeit with fingers firmly crossed.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced organisers to write off the 2020 Yamaha-sponsored New Zealand Cross-country Championships, just a week after the competition had kicked off in the Rangitikei region in February that year, but a full four-round series was run in 2021, with Napier-based former Wairoa man Tommy Watts celebrating his first national title win.
Motorcycling New Zealand (MNZ) cross-country commissioner Chris Smyth has high hopes that the 2022 edition of the hugely-popular series will run without a hitch as he this week announced dates for a four-round series, starting in just two weeks’ time.
The 2022 series is set to kick off on farmland near Marton on Sunday, February 27, with round two set for land near Pahiatua on Saturday, April 16. Round three win run in Central Hawke’s Bay just two days later, on Easter Monday, April 18, with a venue still yet to be decided for the fourth and final round on Saturday, May 14
“The track at Marton looks like it will be a lot wetter than the dusty tracks of the past few years,” said Smyth.
“We will run with vaccine mandates, which is less than ideal, but it is what is required of MNZ. Dates are tentative at this stage and riders will need to watch out for any changes forced upon us by future COVID-19 restrictions. We will keep everyone informed.
“I offer a big thanks to the Bush Riders Motorcycle Club and the Central Hawke’s Bay Motorcycle Club for getting the New Zealand Cross-country Championships underway this season. It would be good if more clubs stood up to be counted too, enabling us to offer a wider variety of circuit venues.
“It is yet to be seen how the entries will progress. Pre-event entries are required this year. I am really looking forward to February 27,” Smyth concluded.
The senior champion from 2019 was Raglan farmer Jason Dickey and, now recovered from an ankle injury, he may be expected to return to racing and challenge defending champion Watts.
Watts’ main rival last year, Palmerston North’s 2015 New Zealand Cross-country Champion Paul Whibley, is also expected to feature again, as are perennial contenders Brandon Given, from Raglan, Glen Murray’s Sam “Charlie” Brown, Whanganui’s Seth Reardon and Taupo’s Will Yeoman.
Other riders too, such as Pahiatua’s Charles Alabaster, Hamilton’s Phil Goodwright, Hamilton’s Andrew Charleston, Te Kauwhata’s Jacob Brown, Pukekawa’s Jim Orton, Toko’s Karl Roberts, Drury’s Richard Sutton, Taupo’s Hadleigh Knight and Rotorua’s Callum Dudson, to name a few, should also be among the leading bunch.
The round one venue is Holly Farm, 235A Galpins Road, RD2, Marton, with all riders knowing a good result is essential if their respective bids for glory are to bear any fruit.
Points from only the best three results from the four rounds will be counted towards the championship titles, with riders to discard their worst result, ensuring the contest will go down to the wire.
The 2022 New Zealand Cross-country Championships series is supported by Yamaha NZ.
Intending riders should enter here: http://enduro.co.nz/public/xc/entries/11/create
2022 NZ Cross-Country Champs
Round One – Sunday, February 27 – Bush Riders MCC, Marton
Round Two – Saturday, April 16 – Bush Riders MCC, Pahiatua
Round Three – Monday, April 18 – Central Hawke’s Bay MCC, Dannevirke
Round Four – Saturday, May 14 – Host club and venue to be decided.
Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com