2022 New Zealand Cross-country Championships

CAPTION: Auckland’s Charlotte Russ (Yamaha), with a stranglehold on the women’s cross-country title this season. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

There’s just one round remaining, but still plenty to fight for at the fourth and final round of the 2022 New Zealand Cross-country Championships at Porangahau this weekend.

The main two titles are already safely tucked away, but there’s plenty of silverware yet to be decided.

Oparau’s James Scott (Honda) won each of the three rounds of the Yamaha-sponsored nationals that have already been staged, easily clinching the senior crown overall for this season at round three near Dannevirke last month, with Napier’s Tommy Watts (Yamaha) and Taupo’s Wil Yeoman (Yamaha) forced to settle for second and third places respectively.

Cambridge’s Jared Hannon (Kawasaki) was similarly impressive in wrapping up the junior title on the same day, Easter Monday. Like Scott, Hannon also compiled an unbeaten 1-1-1 score-card from the first three rounds.

But the story doesn’t end there.

Currently sitting second in the junior points is Te Awamutu’s Nixon Parkes (KTM), with New Plymouth’s Josh Houghton (Husqvarna) and New Plymouth’s Blake Lusk (Yamaha) close behind, this trio of talented youngsters separated by just three points and therefore still locked in a torrid battle to decide the overall runner-up position for 2022.

And then there’s still the matter of deciding the individual bike category titles and that’s what will be the main focus at the fourth and final round in Central Hawke’s Bay this coming Sunday, the 90-minute junior race first on the programme, quickly followed by the three-hour senior race.

The venue for Sunday’s racing is 702 Mangaorapa Road, Porangahau.

Scott can’t be headed in the fight for four-stroke over-300cc class honours, although Rotorua’s Callum Dudson (Honda) will still be keen to clinch overall runner-up honours, while Watts has a stranglehold on the race for the four-stroke under-200cc class silverware. Havelock North’s Ben Hislop (Yamaha) will be looking to seal the runner-up spot (behind Watts) in this class on Sunday.

Yeoman has a firm grip on the two-stroke over-200cc class title, nine points clear of Drury’s Richard Sutton (Yamaha) and Dannevirke’s Ben Paterson (Yamaha) looks solid in the two-stroke under-200cc class, albeit just three points ahead of Helensville’s Luke Uhrle (Beta).

Waipukurau’s Stephen Sergeant (Kawasaki) and Feilding’s Hugh Lintott (KTM) currently lead the two veterans’ classes, while Aucklander Charlotte Russ (Yamaha) and Te Awamutu’s Jack Carmichael (Husqvarna) lead the way in the women’s and under-19 classes respectively.

In the junior grade, it will likely be a battle for runner-up glory (behind Hannon) in the four-stroke bike class between Taupo’s Josh Yeoman (Yamaha) and Eketahuna’s Sheldon Brown (KTM), with Whanganui’s Ben Clare (Yamaha) also possibly in the running.

The tussle for two-stroke over-85cc honours will be between Houghton and Lusk, while Eketahuna’s Ollie Corbin (KTM) and Raetihi’s Karaitiana Horne (Gas Gas) will dispute the top trophy in the under-85cc class.

Motorcycling New Zealand cross-country commissioner Chris Smyth said he was encouraged by the “sizeable turn-out” of riders at all rounds so far this year and expects another good showing on Sunday.

2022 NZ Cross-Country Champs

Round One – Sunday, February 27 – Bush Riders MCC, Marton

Round Two – Saturday, April 16 – Bush Riders MCC, Pahiatua/Masterton

Round Three – Monday, April 18 – Central Hawke’s Bay MCC, Dannevirke

Round Four – Sunday, May 15 – Central Hawke’s Bay MCC, Porangahau.

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