2023 New Zealand Motocross TT Nationals

CAPTION: Pukekawa’s Tyler Brown (MR Motorcycles Kawasaki KX250F), overall winner in two separate categories at the 2023 TT Nationals north of Hamilton at the weekend. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

Like father, like son – winning national motorcycling titles became a family affair at the 2023 edition of the New Zealand Motocross TT Nationals at Taupiri at the weekend.

Throttles were twisted to the stops on the mostly-flat grassland course at Taupiri, north of Hamilton at the weekend and riding skill, bravery, bike reliability and a perhaps a small element of luck were the key ingredients in determining the eventual title winners.

Hosted by the Patetonga Motorcycle Club, this year’s RAM-sponsored New Zealand Motocross TT Championships on Saturday and Sunday had it all, with riders from all corners of the country arriving to battle the elements and one another over the two days.

The entry list included the stars of motocross, cross-country, enduro and even a few road-racing heroes, and it was Kawasaki father and son pair Craig and Tyler Brown who stole a large portion of the limelight.

The 18-year-old Tyler Brown, a former national junior motocross champion now racing in the senior ranks, was the outstanding individual of the weekend, winning two of the premier bike categories, while his 49-year-old father Craig Brown captured the veterans’ over-45 years’ age group title.

Tyler Brown sealed up both the MX1 (open class) and MX2 (250cc) class titles with dominant displays over the two days.

Racing a Kawasaki KX450F that he’d only collected the week before the event, Tyler Brown finished with a 1-2-1-2-2 score-card in the MX1 class and took his Kawasaki KX250F to lodge a 1-1-2-1-2 score-card in winning the MX2 class title. He never finished worse than runner-up in any of the 10 races he started at the weekend.

The teenager finished ahead of Rotorua pair Callum Dudson and Hunter Steens in the MX1 class and Waihi’s Luke Maitland and Pukekawa’s Adam Hodge completed the podium in the MX2 class.

His dad, Craig, was similarly dominant, taking his Kawasaki KX450F to register 1-1-1-3-2 results in his veterans’ class races, enough to edge out former national TT and motocross champion Mitch Rowe, of New Plymouth, and Te Awamutu’s former national cross-country and motocross frontrunner Mark Penny.

“This was only Tyler’s second time of racing a 450cc bike,” explained Craig Brown. “But he looked really comfortable on the bike and he soon got the hang of switching over from a 450cc bike to the 250cc version and then back again throughout the weekend.

“We both knew what we had to do to win the titles and we each built up good points leads early on. This allowed us to relax and cruise a bit later in the weekend. That was the strategy anyway,” he laughed.

“I had a bit of a crash in my fourth race, but I didn’t need to go too hard in that race anyway,” said Craig Brown, a racer who is no stranger to winning national motocross and TT titles.

Also keeping it all in the family, a father and daughter combination also featured at the weekend, with Rowe’s daughter, Mikayla Rowe, from Gordonton, backing up her dad’s separate winning of the classic bike class by winning the senior women’s class title.

Other class winners over the weekend were Kumeu’s Logan Maddren (125cc); Beachlands’ Blake Gillard (veterans’ 35-44 years); Tuakau’s Cody Sheppard (junior 14-16 years, 250cc); Otorohanga’s Cooper Phillips (junior 12-16 years, 125cc); Karapiro’s Jack Hazelden (8-12 years, 85cc); Phillips 12-16 years, 85cc); Hamilton’s Ella Mackie (junior women, 85cc); Waimauku’s Ruby Leech (junior women, 125/250cc); Dudson (enduro bikes); Mitch Rowe (classic bikes); Stratford’s Rex Rooney (mini 50cc); Coatesville’s Sebastian Bassett (mini 65cc trail bikes); Stratford’s Camo Keegan (ATV support).

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