Busy Easter weekend ahead for off-road racing heroes
A frantic and fatiguing weekend lies in wait for New Zealand's motorcycle cross-country racing elite over the Easter break.
It's been two months since the Yamaha-sponsored 2022 New Zealand Cross-country Championships kicked into gear near Marton in February, but now things will really gather momentum.
Rounds two and three will now follow in close order, separated by just two days this coming long holiday weekend, with round two near Pahiatua on Saturday, April 16, and then round three at Dannevirke on Easter Monday, April 18.
This means the four-round series will nudge past the halfway mark this weekend and it's therefore also expected that a likely eventual champion will also be revealed.
The venue for the fourth and final round on May 14 or 15 is still yet to be confirmed.
Oparau’s James Scott (Honda) led virtually from start to finish to win the three-hour senior race at Marton's opening event of this popular series.
It was an extremely tight battle, with Scott taking the chequered flag by just over a minute from Wairoa’s defending national champion Tommy Watts (Yamaha), with Taupo rider Wil Yeoman (Yamaha) finishing third, just one more minute further behind.
In the 90-minute junior race staged earlier in the day at Marton, Cambridge’s Jared Hannon led a Kawasaki 1-2 to the top of the podium, edging out Pukekawa’s national junior 250cc motocross champion Tyler Brown, with New Plymouth’s Josh Houghton (Husqvarna) completing the podium.
MNZ cross-country commissioner Chris Smyth said it would be a "challenging weekend" ahead.
"We’ve got some good venues lined up this year. Pahiatua is completely fresh terrain, so that should be interesting for the riders.
"The problem over this coming weekend may be moisture. We've had quite a bit of rain and it's pretty damp and slippery plus a storm is forecast to hit the east coast of the North Island.
"Dry creek beds will possibly now be a bit boggy, so it will be quite different for the riders. Let's just hope the weather forecasters have got it wrong."
Points from only the best three results from the four rounds will be counted towards the championship titles, with riders to discard their worst result, perhaps ensuring the contest will go down to the wire.
2022 NZ Cross-Country Champs:
Round One – Sunday, February 27 – Bush Riders MCC, Marton
Round Two – Saturday, April 16 – Bush Riders MCC, Pahiatua
Round Three – Monday, April 18 – Central Hawke's Bay MCC, Dannevirke
Round Four – Saturday or Sunday, May 14 or 15 – Host club and venue to be decided.