2023 New Zealand Enduro Championships

The 2023 New Zealand Enduro Championships series will kick off in the South Island this coming weekend and again it looks set to be an absolute cracker.

Each of the four rounds for this season’s Yamaha-sponsored series will offer twice the value because the first two rounds of the nationals in the South Island will also register as rounds one and two respectively of the parallel-but-separate South Island Enduro Championships.

The national series kicks off on Saturday just 75 kilometres north of Christchurch, on farmland at Omihi, with the back-to-back two days of racing sure to sort the men from the boys and the women from the girls.

Hosted by the Christchurch Off-Road Motorcycle Club, this weekend’s racing will be held on challenging terrain at 1045 Reeces Road, Omihi, in North Canterbury, with the event signposted from Omihi School on State Highway One.

The first day on Saturday will be run in a sprint format, with day two on Sunday a traditional timecard enduro race.

Round two is set for just one week later, off Pigeon Valley Road near Wakefield, south of Nelson, on the weekend of May 13-14, so the pressure will be on for riders to keep up their momentum.

Each of the two North Island rounds that follow next month, in Wellington and Martinborough respectively, will be recognised also as rounds one and two of the parallel-but-separate North Island Enduro Championships and again they will be held on consecutive weekends.

“The format we have set seems to be popular with the riders,” said Motorcycling New Zealand enduro commissioner Justin Stevenson.

“Having back-to-back weekends in both the North and South Islands will make it easier for riders and their support crews to form cost-effective travel plans and hopefully riders from both islands will be keen to make the trip across Cook Strait.

“The enduro sprints are basically terrain tests without so much of the endurance element, while the second day at each round will be more like a traditional enduro. This style of racing seems to be the current trend overseas and it should be a lot of fun,” he said.

Several leading riders from previous years, men such as Christchurch’s Hamish Macdonald, Rangiora’s Ben Dando, Cambridge’s Dylan Yearbury, Helensville’s Tom Buxton and Howick’s Liam Draper, for instance, are not expected to show this weekend because of their current international racing or other work commitments, but that only serves to throw the competition wide open.

That means riders to watch out for this weekend may include Omihi’s Ethan McBreen, Taupo’s Brad Groombridge, Wainuiomata’s Jake Whitaker, Whanganui’s Seth Reardon, Oparau’s James Scott, Wairoa’s Tommy Watts, Oratia’s Callan May, Waitoki’s Ben Cottrill, Helensville’s Josh Jack, New Plymouth father and son pair Tony and Sam Parker, New Plymouth’s Josh Houghton and Palmerston North’s Paul Whibley, among others.

Stevenson said the terrain is not familiar to him, but many of the riders will have raced there previously.

“My understanding is that it’s a mix of steep and flat farmland, so it will be fast in some places and quite tricky in others.”

2023 NZ Enduro Champs calendar:

Round 1: May 6-7, Omihi, North Canterbury.

Round 2: May 13-14, Pigeon Valley Road, south of Nelson.

Round 3: June 4-5, Moonshine Valley Road, near Porirua, Wellington.

Round 4: June 10-11, Martinborough.

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