2023 New Zealand Enduro Championships

CAPTION: Tapanui’s Kylie Dorr (Beta RR200), on her way to winning the women’s class at the 2023 New Zealand Enduro Championships. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

The margins were fine and the risks extreme and it was a technical mistake that eventually denied Tauranga-based former Wairoa man Tommy Watts from winning the 2023 New Zealand Enduro Championships.

Watts had taken over the lead in the title chase at the third round of four in the Yamaha-sponsored series near Porirua just over a week ago, but North Canterbury’s Ethan McBreen took back the advantage and snatched away the overall title win at the fourth and final round near Martinborough on Saturday and Sunday.

Omihi’s McBreen had led the series after the first two rounds of the series in the South Island last month, but Watts snatched the lead from him at round three in the Moonshine Valley, near Porirua.

This had set up the championship for a winner-takes-all, two-day final round of racing at Martinborough.

Watts had still been in the lead at the start of the final day on Sunday, but an indiscretion in receiving outside assistance was protested and the time penalty punishment imposed on Watts completely derailed his campaign and dropped him to second overall for the series, handing the premier title to McBreen.

It is understood that Watts may yet appeal the penalty.

However, even with Watts finishing the weekend runner-up at Martinborough, that was still easily enough for him to take top honours in the battle-within-a-battle for the under-200cc two-stroke and under-300cc four-stroke class title, Watts finishing ahead of Nelson’s Bailey Basalaj, while McBreen secured the over-200cc two-stroke class title, finishing ahead of Whitianga’s James Kerr.

Stoke’s Kurtis Bandy won the over-300cc four-stroke class ahead of Havelock North’s Tom Hislop.

Hastings rider Andy Gunson topped the series score-sheet in the over-40 years’ veterans’ class, finishing the series ahead of Rangiora’s Travis Churchill.

Tapanui’s Kylie Dorr, was best of the female competitors this year, easily securing the women’s class title.

Other class winners this season were Blenheim’s Raphael Zyla (intermediate under-200cc two-stroke/under-300cc four-stroke class); (Rerewhakaaitu’s Zach Sefuiva (intermediate over-200cc two-stroke/over-300cc four-stroke class); Paeroa’s Mark Whyte (intermediate veterans’ 50-54 years’ class); Blenheim’s Don Munro (intermediate veterans’ over-55 years’ class) and Brightwater’s Wayne Bensemann (intermediate veterans’ 40-49 years’ class).

“The new two-day format with day one a series of sprints and day two a traditional timecard enduro was very successful and the riders loved it,” said Motorcycling New Zealand enduro commissioner Justin Stevenson.

“We’ll keep this format going forward and aim for the events in each island to stay within a week of one other, so the riders can plan well ahead.”

Martinborough stood as round two of the parallel-but-separate North Island Enduro Championships, meaning there was plenty to fight for at the weekend, and the winners in this parallel-but-separate competition were McBreen (over-200cc two-stroke class); Watts (under-200cc two-stroke and under-300cc four-stroke class title); Hislop (over-300cc four-stroke class); New Plymouth’s Tony Parker (over-40 years’ veterans class); Dorr (women’s class); Judgeford’s Cameron Judd (intermediate under-200cc two-stroke/under-300cc four-stroke class); Sefuiva (intermediate over-200cc two-stroke/over-300cc four-stroke class); Whangarei’s Mark Gray (intermediate veterans’ 50-54 years’ class); Munro (intermediate veterans’ over-55 years’ class) and Napier’s Nigel Reid (intermediate veterans’ 40-49 years’ class).

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