CAPTION: Eketahuna’s Sheldon Brown (Yamaha), running second overall in the junior grade after the opening two rounds of the 2024 Yamaha New Zealand Cross Country Championships near Nelson last month. Photo by Andy McGechan,

The 2024 Yamaha New Zealand Cross Country Championships will wrap up this coming Easter Weekend with back-to-back rounds three and four taking place in the east of the North Island.

Two three-hour senior races and two 90-minute junior races were staged over two days on a hilly farmland course near Nelson last month and, remarkably, there were four different winners that long weekend.

This means the four-round Yamaha-sponsored series is likely to go down to the wire and, even if some of those same competitors win the day at round three at Flemington, east of Waipukurau, on Saturday (March 30), it may not be finally decided until after round four, at Tinui, near Masterton, two days later, on Easter Monday (April 1).

Motorcycling New Zealand Cross Country Co-Commissioner Paul Whibley said he was looking forward to the culmination of the series this weekend.

“Saturday’s venue will be mostly rolling farmland and Monday’s venue is similar, but both will offer a good challenge to the riders. We may add in some bush sections for Monday’s racing.

“We have had a slightly different format this 2024 season,” he said.

“By having two races separated by only a day, it has helped to reduce travel costs for the competitors, who have to make only one trip south and one trip north to contest the full series. A day between races has given the riders time to recover and prepare their bikes.

“We know it’s expensive to travel across on the inter-island ferry, so, with reducing the number of crossings, we have hopefully helped encourage more riders to complete the full series.

“The South Island races were well supported by North Island riders and we hope the South Islanders will make the trip up this weekend.

“We want to thank our sponsors, Yamaha, Forbes and Davies (motorcycle accessories business), Motomuck (distributors of bike, motorcycle, car and marine cleaning products) and Stux NZ Gloves and a big thanks to the various host clubs for getting involved so that we could get this 2024 series up and running.”

Defending senior champion Wil Yeoman carried on where he left off last season by winning the senior race at round one in February, leading Rotorua’s Callum Dudson and Eketahuna’s Luke Brown across the finish line.

Dudson had his revenge by winning round two at the same venue two days later, with Yeoman and Auckland’s Ryan Hayward following him past the chequered flag.

This left Dudson and Yeoman tied at the top of the senior rankings, with Hayward third overall, Brown fourth and Wairoa’s Luke Taylor rounding out the senior top five as the riders headed to the North Island for this weekend’s double-header.

Auckland’s Charlotte Russ was best of the senior women on both days in the South Island and looks set to wrap up this title again in 2024.

In the junior racing grade, it was first blood to Owaka’s Blake Affleck at round one, with Eketahuna’s Sheldon Brown runner-up and Masterton’s Max Williams claiming third.

Two days later and it was Te Awamutu’s Nixon Parkes taking the chequered flag in the junior grade race, with Affleck forced to settle for second and Brown claiming third.

The junior grade standings after rounds one and two sees Affleck alone on top, Brown second, just five points behind, and Parkes in third, with Williams and Havelock North’s Luke McBeth rounding out the top five.

Best of the junior 85cc class riders is Cromwell’s Lochie Cornish, while the leading junior grade woman is Rotorua’s Grace Fowler.

2024 Yamaha New Zealand Cross Country Championships calendar:

Round one, Friday, February 9, St Arnaud, near Nelson;

Round two, Sunday, February 11, St Arnaud, near Nelson;

Round three, Saturday, March 30, Flemington, Central Hawke’s Bay;

Round four, Monday, April 1 (Easter Monday), Bush Riders Club, at Tinui, near Masterton.

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan,

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Code No. MNZ-AM1066