The 2023 New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships

CAPTION: Expect fast and furious action such as this when the gates drop for the 2023 New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships in Southland this weekend. Photo by Andy McGechan,

Motel rooms will be at a premium this coming weekend as Southland braces to host hundreds of riders, their families and support crews arriving in the region for the 2023 New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships.

The MotoSouth, KTM and Kawasaki-sponsored three-day event will be run at The Sandpit track on Pit Road, at Otatara, on the southern outskirts of Invercargill between Friday and Sunday (April 14-16).

“We hosted the mini motocross nationals in Southland in 2014 and now we can see some of the same riders’ names popping up again now for the junior nationals,” said Southland Motorcycle Club spokesperson and event co-promoter Mel Symon.

“We have nearly 200 riders entered, with a few of them double-classing, and the classes are all bulging with young talent. We have full fields in most categories, especially in the 85cc classes.

“This is the first time that the Southland Motorcycle Club has hosted the junior motocross nationals and we are looking forward to three days of safe but exciting racing.

“Everyone in the club has pulled together to make sure it will be the best that it can be,” she said.

The racing at the junior nationals is, as always, expected to be fierce, as the cream of motocross talent, all aged between eight and 16 years, battle to clinch a national title.

This will be particularly so for the eldest age group of competitors, as they seek to claim junior glory before they turn 17 and are obliged to progress to the senior ranks, where racing and winning gets that much tougher.

With racing this weekend expected to be tight right through all the grades, it’s a difficult event to predict and it is unlikely anything will be wrapped up until late on Sunday afternoon.

Key riders to watch out for include many who clinched titles when the 2022 nationals were held, just six months ago, in Taranaki last October. The junior nationals are traditionally held during the April school holidays, but the 2022 edition was pushed on to October last year because of concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Riders such as Waitoki’s Cole Davies, Invercargill’s Seth Morrow, Bombay’s Reuben Smith, Taupo’s Cody Griffiths, Levin’s Phoenix Van Dusschoten, Pukehina’s Flynn Watts, Leeston’s Kase Thoms, Appleby’s Wills Harvey, Whakatane’s Aydan Hall, Nelson’s Connor Heaphy, Karaka’s Hayden Draper, Tauranga brothers Levi and Jaggar Townley, among others, will no doubt again be at the pointy end of their respective classes this weekend.

In the junior girls’ ranks, we can probably expect Raetihi’s Karaitiana Horne, Auckland’s Ruby Leech, Waitoki’s Milla Glasgow, Wainuiomata’s Ella Burns, Rolleston’s Ruby Pirika, Whangarei’s Hannah Perris, Rotorua’s Abby Morrissey and South Featherston’s Bailey Newbould, to name just a few, among those to shine brightest.

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan,