2023 New Zealand Cross-country Championships

CAPTION: Te Awamutu’s Nixon Parkes (Yamaha YZF250), winner of the junior grade at the cross-country nationals this season. Photo courtesy Geoff Guthrie Imagery

DECEMBER 12, 2023: The New Zealand Cross-country Championships wound up for 2023 with the third and final round in the Wairarapa on Sunday.

Organised at late notice and later in the year than would normally have been the case, due to unforeseen circumstances, the opening round of three in this season’s Whyteline Beta Motorcycles-sponsored series was held at Rotoma, in the Bay of Plenty, in the second weekend in November.

Round two was held at a rain-drenched Maddix Park, in the hills overlooking Tauranga, just over two weeks ago and the stage was then set for a thrilling finale at Tinui, near Masterton, on Sunday.

Taupo’s Wil Yeoman had finished third overall at the first round, but his intentions were perfectly clear and the two men who finished ahead of him that day, Taupo’s three-time former national champion Brad Groombridge and Cambridge’s Jared Hannon, certainly knew they had a fight on their hands.

And so it proved, with Yeoman winning the day at Maddix Park and shooting himself to the top of the standings after both Groombridge and Hannon suffered misfortunes at round two.

Rotorua’s Callum Dudson finished runner-up at both the early rounds and so he had therefore revealed himself as the biggest threat to Yeoman.

A calm and measured approach was perhaps all that Yeoman needed to consider for Sunday’s final round in the Wairarapa.

In the end, Yeoman did all he needed to do to clinch the title for 2023, winning Sunday’s three-hour senior race by just over six minutes from Dudson, who had to settle for series runner-up, with Eketahuna’s Luke Brown finishing third on Sunday and claiming the last podium spot for the championship.

“It was bucketing down with rain at the start of the race,” said Yeoman, an 18-year-old auto electrician.

“The laps were quite long, about 45 minutes, so that was tough with managing fuel stops. We decided I needed to do a ‘splash and dash’ after each lap, just to be safe,” he explained.

“Once I got into the lead, I managed to extend my lead. The bike became quite heavy with all the accumulated mud on it, but it wasn’t too bad.”

Yeoman also won the XC1 class title for 2023; Nelson’s Bailey Basalaj won the XC2 class; Huntly’s Brandon Hoskins won the XC3 class; best of the veterans’ 35-44 years was Waipukurau’s Stephen Sergeant; best of the veterans’ over-45 years class was Whangamata’s Shane Frith, while top senior woman was Auckland’s Charlotte Russ.

Meanwhile, in the 90-minute junior grade race held earlier in the day, Te Awamutu’s Nixon Parkes took his 250cc bike to capture the outright win and also seal the title.

Eketahuna’s Sheldon Brown was runner-up to Parkes on Sunday and he finished overall runner-up for 2023, with Aucklander Millen Cargill arriving at the chequered flag fourth overall, behind Masterton’s Max Williams, enough to earn the third podium position for the junior championships.

Best of the smaller bike riders this season was Rotorua’s James Bates, best of the 125cc two-stroke riders, while best of the 85cc two-stroke/150cc four-stroke bike riders was Raglan’s Ryley Shaw.

Rotorua’s Grace Fowler was best of the junior women.

2023 New Zealand Cross-country Championships calendar:

Round one, Saturday, November 11, at Rotoma, near Matata;

Round two, Saturday, November 25, at Maddix Park, Tauranga;

Round three, Sunday, December 10, at Tinui, near Masterton.

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

Credit: Photo by Geoff Guthrie Imagery