2017 VETS AND WOMEN’S CHAMPIONS CROWNED

VETS AND WOMEN’S CHAMPIONS CROWNED IN TARANAKI

Nobody came even close to Hawera’s Daryl Hurley at the annual New Zealand Veterans’ and Women’s Motocross Championships in Taranaki at the weekend.

The two-day event, held at newly-formed Hack Track, on farmland just south of Eltham, was the perfect venue to showcase both the men of “advanced years” and the rising stars of the women’s motocross world.

Competitors at this event were truly a curious mix of old men and young girls, but the format seemed to work with the rolling grassland circuit a perfect venue, one that could offer both challenge enough for the men with aging bones and tired muscles and for the women who would most appreciate riding an “old school” natural terrain track, where they could further develop their racing skills.

However, although now aged 41, Hurley was one rider who seemed to fit into neither category – the multi-time former national champion’s body was still in top shape and his skills remained undeniable.

The former Kiwi international was unbeaten in five races in his 40-44 years’ class and he was runaway winner of the champion-of-champions feature race at the end of the weekend too, although the unique scoring format for that race – where the rider’s age is added to his finishing position – actually handed the trophy instead to 58-year-old Aucklander Craig Wallace.

“It was actually more enjoyable for me being a sponsor of the event and for being one of the people responsible for putting this event on in the first place,” said a modest Hurley afterwards. 

Opunake’s Taylar Rampton was the top female, winning the senior women’s class by just three points from Rotorua’s Letitia Alabaster.

Rampton knew as she lined up for the final race of the weekend that she could “play it safe” and that fourth place in the last race would be enough to secure the title – she finished third in that race and “got the job done”.

Tauranga’s Shelby Catley won the junior women’s 12-16 years’ grade title by a similarly tight margin, out-scoring Te Awamutu’s defending champion Rachael Archer by just one point.

The 15-year-old Catley had previously collected a national title – winning a mini motocross title in 2013 – but this was her first junior title. The year 10 pupil at Katikati College had finished runner-up to Archer last year. 

Other national title winners at the weekend were: Hawera’s Nicholl Marshall (veteran women’s class); Hawera’s Steven Craig (30-34 years’ class); Inglewood’s Larry Blair (35-39 years’ class); Whakatane’s Darren Capill (45-49 years’ class); New Plymouth’s Mitch Rowe (50-54 years’ class); Auckland’s Gaudenz Gisler (55-59 years’ class); Pukekohe’s Tony Cooksley (over-60 years’ class).

 Words and photo by Andy McGechan