CAPTION: Christchurch 12-year-old and rising star in the sport, Hunter Charlett, seen here in action recently on his Kayo MR150 bike. Photo courtesy Mel Smyth Images.

The latest project to promote, support and encourage youngsters into motorcycle road-racing has a big thumbs-up from the sport’s governing body here, Motorcycling New Zealand.

Following on from Suzuki New Zealand’s advent in 2017 of the GIXXER Cup competition – which was a starting point and nursery ground for young riders who have now gone on to achieve much greater things, individuals such as Taupiri brother and sister duo Zak and Billee Fuller, Whanganui’s Luca Durning and Hamilton pair Jesse Stroud and Caleb Gilmore, to name a few – now comes New Zealand’s first annual Kayo Grand Prix.

So, do you know of a child aged between the age of seven and 13 who would want to have a go at road racing on a 150cc bike and rub shoulders for a day with some of the best racers in the country?

Then get yourself entered into New Zealand’s inaugural Kayo GP, scheduled for the karting track at Tokoroa on April 16.

This event is an entry point into the sport for junior riders, provides a fun ‘low-pressure’ race day for adult entrants, and hopes to raise the profile of the New Zealand Superbike Championships (NZSBK) through an off-season promotional event.

The event is the first of its kind. It is formulated along the lines of a two-hour adult endurance race and it will feature many of New Zealand’s top current Superbike, Supersport 600, Pro Twin and Supersport 300 class racers.

This race is an opportunity for experienced road racers to test their skills on a small bike, the same way MotoGP stars Marc Marquez, Johan Zarco and Jack Miller do internationally.

The race will involve many pit stops, where the rider on track will come in and hand off the bike to their team-mate, before doing it again at the next pit stop.

However, while the adults’ race may be the main attraction, the most important aspect is that it will provide junior riders (aged between 7-13 years) with an opportunity to get involved in a road racing event at no cost.

Any junior rider, even with just the bare minimum of experience, is invited to apply for one of the limited free entry spots.

If the young rider’s application is accepted, he or she will be assigned to one of the teams that has entered and they will be given their own separate practice sessions throughout the day.

Experience with operating the clutch, brakes and gears is all that is really required and the motocross, trials, enduro or cross-country dirt bike racing scenes may have already given them that.

The organisers will liaise with the parents of the juniors and will make sure they have appropriate riding gear available.

They should be able to enjoy the thrill of competing on a tarmac racetrack in an extremely low-pressure environment.

The intention is that some of the juniors who attend will rub shoulders with some of the best riders in New Zealand and will see a direct pathway into the New Zealand Superbike Championships in the future.

All proceeds from the event go to a junior riders’ fund that will help juniors move into NZSBK when ready. The event will welcome spectators (gold coin donation to enter) and there will be professional photographers, live timing in place, a fundraising BBQ and plenty of opportunities to socialise with like-minded individuals.

Already confirmed to enter are such talented senior riders as Mitch Rees, Tony Rees, Al Hoogenboezem, Dave Sharp, Rogan Chandler, Avalon Biddle, Jake Lewis, Jacob Stroud, Jesse Stroud, Vaughn Maine, Chris Defiori and Aaron Hassan, among others.

Interested? Positions are limited but riders/parents should send an email to [email protected] and an application form will be sent.

Credits: Photo courtesy Mel Smyth Images, words by Dave Sharp and Andy McGechan,