2022 New Zealand Enduro Championships

CAPTION: Whanganui’s Seth Reardon (Yamaha), one of the riders to watch out for at round one of the 2022 New Zealand Enduro Championships near Whanganui on Saturday. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

The 2022 New Zealand Enduro Championships kick off near Whanganui this weekend and it’s virtually impossible to pick a favourite to win what will this year be a compressed, rapid-fire series.

This year’s Yamaha-sponsored series will run for only three rounds because, when planning for the series was already well underway, many travel difficulties arose due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with inter-island ferry crossings particularly problematic, and this meant the previously-scheduled two events in the South Island had to be cancelled.

However, with riders still able to discard their one worst result in terms of capturing an individual class win, it should ensure the chase for class titles will be tight until the end. As usual, all rounds are counted towards the championship overall.

Whatever transpires, it’s again going to take a special individual who can rise to claim the top prize at Whanganui on Saturday.

And a win on Saturday may be crucial too, because the second round follows on just two days later, a Queen’s Birthday double-header demanding that the riders line up to compete again on Monday, this time on rugged terrain near Porirua.

The venue for Saturday is on hilly farmland and pine forest at 1057A Makirikiri Valley Road, Upokongaro. It will be signposted from State Highway 4.

The site for Monday’s racing is signposted from Moonshine Road, Judgeford, Porirua.

The outright champion last season was Cambridge’s Dylan Yearbury, with close friend and fierce rival Tommy Buxton, from Helensville, forced to settle for the runner-up spot, and it’s possible that Yearbury will be a force to be reckoned with this time around too.

Buxton is currently racing overseas, so he won’t be a feature at the enduro nationals this year.

Former national dirt bike champions Jake Whitaker, from Wainuiomata, and Seth Reardon, from Whanganui, are a couple of riders who should also be among those challenging for the win – Whitaker won the New Zealand Extreme Off-Road Championships in 2019 and Reardon was national enduro champion in 2019.

However, these riders can take nothing for granted, with Manawatu’s former United States cross-country champion Paul Whibley, Oparau’s just-crowned national cross-country champion James Scott, Wairoa’s Tommy Watts, Taupo’s Wil Yeoman and Rotorua’s Ethan Harris also likely title contenders.

Yearbury, Reardon, Scott, Watts and Yeoman will also be using the enduro nationals to tune themselves up for their racing at the annual International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) event in France later this year.

Others to watch out for this coming weekend include New Plymouth’s Josh Houghton, Drury’s Richard Sutton, Tokoroa’s Jake Wightman, Stratford’s Josh Hunger, Rotorua’s Bradley Lauder and New Plymouth veteran Tony Parker, to name just a few.

Motorcycling New Zealand enduro commissioner Justin Stevenson said he was “looking forward to a thrilling Queen’s Birthday weekend”, with the double-header situation certain to be a stern test.

“We wanted to run an intense, quick-fire series to help boost and strengthen the riders who are in training to contest the ISDE in France in August-September,” he explained.

“It is also interesting to note that Seth Reardon’s late father, Brian, won the enduro when it was last staged at the Upokongaro venue in 1985.”

The 2022 Yamaha NZ Enduro Championships are supported by Mitas tyres Macaulay Metals, Best Build Construction, Silver-bullet and Kiwi Rider magazine.

2022 NZ Enduro Champs calendar:

Round 1 – Saturday, June 4 – Whanganui;

Round 2 – Queen’s Birthday Monday, June 6 – Porirua;

Round 3 – Sunday June 12 – Martinborough.

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