2023 New Zealand Hard Enduro Championships

CAPTION: New Plymouth’s Blake Lusk (Yamaha), on the charge in the Akatarawa Forest, near Porirua, earlier this year. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

The 2023 New Zealand Hard Enduro Championships is called that for a reason and the promoters say the word “hard” is really perhaps an understatement.

In saying that, however, the first of two rounds of this year’s Yamaha-sponsored series off Moonshine Valley Road, in the Akatarewa Forest near Pauatahanui, north-east of Porirua, this weekend should be just “bread and butter fare” for a few of the more experienced Kiwi internationals expected to accept the two-day challenge.

At this stage it’s unknown whom might enter the event, but, assuming they show up this weekend, traditional front-running riders such as Wainuiomata’s Jake Whitaker, Tauranga-based former Wairoa man Tommy Watts, Auckland’s Ryan Hayward, New Plymouth father and son duo of Tony and Sam Parker, Taupo’s Wil Yeoman, Whangaparoa’s Jacob Refoy, New Plymouth’s Blake Lusk, Whitianga’s James Kerr, Taupo’s Brad Groombridge, Hastings hero Andy Gunson, Christchurch’s Josh Dando, Amberley’s Archer Pascoe and fellow South Islander Luke Corson, from Whitecliffs, should be among those in the hunt to grab top honours in their respective categories.

The course will feature separate tracks for Gold, Silver and Bronze category riders, but contestants of all abilities will definitely find this event a challenge.

“The two days will feature a little bit of everything said,” said Motorcycling New Zealand enduro commissioner Justin Stevenson.

“We have made plenty of fresh tracks or areas of the forest that have not been used in a while. We have been quite creative.”

Day one on Saturday will be run in a traditional timecard enduro format, while day two on Sunday will feature an arena-cross section and more difficult uphill and down-hill phases. Day two will be a cross-country format, with a staggered start (riders sent away every 20 seconds) and times will be adjusted at the end of the day.

This weekend’s national event at Moonshine will double also as round one of the parallel-but-separate North Island Hard Enduro Championships.

Round two of the New Zealand Hard Enduro Championships is also known as the Nutbuster Enduro and set for Canterbury on the weekend of November 17-18. Similarly, this event in Christchurch will double up as round one of the South Island Hard Enduro Championships.

“Having back-to-back race days 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,” said Stevenson.

All series are additionally supported by Mitas tyres, Kiwi Rider magazine, Silver-bullet and Macaulay Metals.

2023 NZ Hard Enduro Championships:

Round 1: September 9-10, Moonshine Xtreme, Bulls Run Road, Porirua;

Round 2: November 17-18, Nutbuster, Christchurch.

North Island Hard Enduro Championships:

Round 1: September 9-10, Moonshine Xtreme;

Round 2: October 7-8, Root 100, Whangaruru, Whangarei.

South Island Hard Enduro Championships:

Round 1: Wanaka (already held in Easter);

Round 2: November 17-18, Nutbuster, Christchurch.

New Zealand Enduro X Championships:

Round 1: November 17, Nutbuster day one.

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