2022 International Six Days Enduro in France

CAPTION: New Zealand’s best-performed individual at this year’s 96th annual International Six Days Enduro in France was Oparau’s James Scott (Honda CRF250RX). Photo courtesy NZ ISDE Team Facebook page.

New Zealand riders performed with distinction at the 2022 FIM International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) competition that just wrapped up at Le Puy-En-Velay, in southern France.

New Zealand finished 16th and 7th overall in the World Trophy and Junior World Trophy Team (under-23) categories respectively – a fantastic result for a small country being represented so far from home at this “Olympic Games of motorcycling” for the first time in 16 years.

However, drawing to a close an exceptional week of racing, it was the four-rider Trophy Team from Britain that eventually crossed the finish line in Le Puy-En-Velay as the 2022 ISDE World Champions.

In a dramatic turn of fortune, Italy clinched the vice-champion position in the final moments of the final motocross test.

With team leader Andrea Verona (GasGas) winning day six, the Italians beat Spain to the runner-up position by an incredible five tenths of one second after almost 13 hours of racing over the six days.

Meanwhile, Spain’s Josep Garcia (KTM) finished up as top individual overall at this year’s ISDE.

But the Kiwis too claimed some of the limelight as they bravely charged onward despite losing one of their number on day three, just halfway into the punishing week-long contest against a 500-plus field of international elite at the venue south-west of Lyon.

New Zealand’s four-rider Trophy Team – Oratia’s Callan May, Cambridge’s Dylan Yearbury, Helensville’s Tom Buxton and Whanganui’s Seth Reardon – had held a strong grip on 11th overall position on day three, out of the 22 nations represented in this premier classification.

But then Reardon seriously had injured his hand during a tyre-changing work session at the end of day one, cutting his hand on a sharp wheel sprocket. He bravely elected to battle on.

However, his hand became infected on day three and he was not able to continue.

“I had made the decision to pull the pin on the race after I have gotten a gash on my hand while changing tyres during my race on Monday,” Reardon explained.

“I rode with it for three days and carried on until Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately it became infected and was very sore and swollen. I ended up going to hospital for surgery, where they opened up the wound to clean out thoroughly. It is currently on the mend with some stitches to help it heal. I am super gutted that I wasn’t be able to continue to race.”

A three-hour penalty time was applied to Reardon for each of the remaining three days that he had been expected (but was unable) to compete.

This cost the Kiwi team dearly and they dropped down the order, although several strong performances from the remaining riders did allow them to finish ahead of the teams from Poland, Austria, Venezuela, Portugal, Australia and Canada.

Best-formed of New Zealand’s World Trophy Team was Buxton, who finished the event 46th overall among the 156 riders representing 33 separate nations. A further 385 riders were competing also as solo riders representing clubs, with that kind of high traffic volumes making the terrain extremely rough and unforgiving.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s three-rider junior (under-23) squad – comprising Oparau’s James Scott, Wairoa’s Tommy Watts and Taupo’s Wil Yeoman – stormed to seventh position overall in the Junior World Trophy (JWT) classification, behind the winning team from Italy, runners-up Finland, Australia, Britain, Spain and the Czech Republic, but ahead of such notable teams as those from The Netherlands, Portugal and Belgium.

Scott (Honda) ended up being the best-performed of the Kiwi contingent and he finished the event 42nd-best individual overall, actually four places ahead of fellow Kiwi Buxton (KTM). Scott was ranked seventh best individual in the JWT class.

Individually, all the Kiwi riders impressed at the ISDE, with Yearbury finishing the event 48th overall, Watts 63rd, Yeoman 75th and May 80th.

Reardon had been ranked 79th overall before his untimely exit through injury forced him down the pecking order and he wound up 151st overall.

Helensville’s Josh Jack, Rangiora’s Ben Dando and Waitoki’s Ben Cottrill tackled the ISDE as “club riders” – forming the Motorcycling New Zealand Club Team – and they finished 15th overall in the club teams classification.

Two other Kiwis, Dan Watson and Wil Drummond, joined up with an Australian rider, Scott Noble, to form another club team – Team ANZAC – and they finished 60th overall within the club team rider classification.

Of the more than 380 riders entered in this club rider class, Jack finished with a ranking of 13th, Dando was placed 58th and Cottrill claimed 131st position overall.

Motorcycling New Zealand general manager Mike Kerrisk said he was extremely proud of the New Zealand riders’ achievements.

“I’m really impressed with the efforts from all of our riders, who have stood up and been competitive in what is truly an international event that has attracted the best of the best from countries across the globe.

“The results for our Junior Trophy Class Team is of particular note – to ride as consistently and to place as high as they have shows we have quality and depth coming through the sport in New Zealand,” he said.

“A big thanks and congratulations to all involved. They have done us proud.”

With the 96th edition of the ISDE now wrapped up in France, attention will next turn to the 97th edition in San Juan, Argentina, in November 2023.

The 2022 New Zealand ISDE team was supported by Motorcycling New Zealand, Ward Demolition, New Plymouth Underwater, Macaulay Metals, SignBiz, MJH Engineering and MotoMuck.

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