DUNGEY RETURNS TO HIS ROOTS IN NEW VID

RYAN DUNGEY RETURNS TO HIS RURAL ROOTS AS HE SLAYS IT ON SECRET CORN FEILD TRACK

This brings new meaning to “Homegrown,” as the seven-time champ puts his riding on display in a one-of-a-kind 10-acre cornfield turned motocross track.

The unique track, along with Dungey’s musings, draws a connection between his success in motocross and the industriousness and driven disposition of the American Midwest.

Despite his accomplishments, Dungey has stayed grounded and become an approachable icon to the sport, never forgetting the values of hard work and dedication instilled early in his life.

NZ Secondary Schools MX Champs 2017

WIND, SAND AND TROPHIES FOR NZ SECONDARY SCHOOL RIDERS

Words: Pete Andersson

In the last few years the number of Secondary School MX events has suddenly grown in New Zealand. Most of them are run as fundraisers for charities, schools or clubs. Apart from the three official Championships, (North Island, South Island and New Zealand Secondary School MX Championships) none of the other events are sanctioned by the New Zealand Secondary School Sports Council. The North Island and South Island Championships have been run most years, but recently the NZ Secondary School MX Champs have often been missing from the calendar.

That was all to change this year as the top New Zealand school MX event was penned in for 15 July at the South Waikato Motorcycle Clubs Tokoroa track. Sadly the day was a rain off, so the event was moved to 7 October, only to be moved again due to the track being prepared for Round 1 of the NZ Super Cross Champs. So the event would now be held on 11th November.

You could question the logic in holding a major NZ Secondary School event in middle of the final exam schedule and this was most probably a major reason why the Novice classes had low numbers on the day.

It was a chilly spring day with strong winds when New Zealand’s top school MX riders were found competing in the four Competitive, two Novice and one Girls class. The dry sand from the track was a constant companion on the day and got in everywhere thanks to the strong wind. This was also a contributing factor to the higher number of corner crashes than usual as the dry and loose sand would give way to the speed and weight of the bikes.

With the low numbers in the Novice and Girls classes they were run together but scored separately.

Joshua Richie from Waiuku College took three wins in the Novice 12-16 85cc class to become the 2017 Champion. In the 12-14 Novice 125/250cc class, Cole Thomas – also from Waiuku College – had to work a little harder after a mistake in Race 2, but with two wins he secured the top spot.

In the 12-19 year old Girls class Motueka High Schools Roma Edwards made it a clean sweep and at 15 years old walked away with her first NZ SS MX Championship. Roma also raced the first race in the Competitive 15-19yo 125cc class where she, as the only girl, did well to place 10th. But as the loose and deep sand on the track was heavy work she decided to focus on the girls class.

Ben Wall from St Andrews College in Christchurch came looking for a championship in the 12-16yo 85cc class, as he felt he had done the groundwork. He had travelled up and ridden in a few rounds of the Taupo winter series, as the two tracks have similar base. He had upped his fitness programme and together with his dad they had made sure the bike was ready! So when he took the lead in Race 1 and never got challenged, he was feeling pretty confident. Race 2 was very similar and you would have forgiven Ben for thinking that the Championship could be his… But, MX can be so cruel at times!

Little did Ben know, but some of the sand that was freely flying around the place in the gale force winds had managed to find its way in to the motor. After dropping the bike at end of lap one in Race 3 and Jack Rogers from Mahurangi College passing him, Ben started the chase. When Jack crashed on Lap 2 Ben took his chance to regain the lead. A lap later his bike stopped after the motor made an alarming sound. Ben was not able to get the bike running again and did not finish the race, yet still placing fourth overall. Jack Rogers inherited the lead and together with his two second placings took the Championship ahead of Connor Fowell from Paeroa College.

That nobody could stop Jack Dunlop from proudly taking the 12-14 year old 125cc class Championship trophy back to Hamilton Boys High School was no surprise to the ones who had watched him win the Junior 125/250cc All In class here in the South Waikato 2017 five round Winter Series. On the day he was in a class of his own and won each race with a 15 second gap. Only in Race 1 and 2 did Tauranga Boys Colleges Sam Meredith put up a fight, but errors and bad luck early in the races relegated him to third in the overall standings with Kian De Lacy from Massey High School riding consistently and coming 2’nd in the Championship.

If the 12-14 year old 125cc class had been run at the initial date of 15 July Jack would have had a fight on his hands coming up against Cole Dalley from Hauraki Plains College. But as Cole had now turned 15 he was elevated up to the “big boys” 125cc class. When run at the New Zealand Junior Championships this class is for riders of age 15-16.

But here at the Secondary School Champs you can ride this class until you finish school at 19 years old. Cole had a month earlier, for the first time, travelled to Australia to race in their National Junior Championships. This had been an eye opener as the speed of the Australian juniors was mind boggling! Cole had not returned with any trophies, but he had learned heaps and was planning to use his new knowledge at these School Championships! He was here with two bikes: his 125cc and also his 250cc with the plan to ride in both classes. But Cole had started to doubt his racing abilities and was considering focusing on his main 125cc class only. Luckily others convinced him to race in both!

In the Competitive 15-19 year old 125cc class one of the main contenders, Zac Jillings from Palmerston North Boys High, had an injured leg from Round 2 of the NZ Super Cross and would not ride. This made Jacob Beal from Napier Boys High the top contender for the win. And Jacob did not disappoint. With a “Take No Prisoners” attitude Jacob won all three races. He had to come from behind in each race, as some of the other riders had their starts dialled in. But in every race Jacob would be in the lead by Lap 2 and keep it to the end. Cole Dalley surprised by taking second in the class with two second placings and a third.

Reef Wheki from Fraser High School ruled the roost in the Competitive 15-19year old 250cc class. He did lead Race 1 and 3 from start to finish. In Race 2 Sam Middleton from Trident High School, who placed 2’nd in the overall standing, managed to get the start, but by end of the first lap Reef was again in the lead. Reefs lap times were also consistently 2 to 4 seconds faster than any other riders. Cole Dalley probably surprised himself the most by placing third in this class!

The top schools were: 1’st Trident High School, 2’nd Hauraki Plains College, 3’rd Paeroa College. (A schools three top Competitive class placings are added to find out the top school).

We hope this event is here to stay and will grow in size as the interest from riders and schools increase. It should surely be something for a school to strive for: to have a NZ SS MX Champion in their midst!

HUSKY RIDER WATTS TAKES TOP SPORTING HONOUR

Tommy Watts of Wairoa, took the top honour at the 2017 Wairoa Sportsperson of the Year awards night on Friday. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

 It’s not often that a “minority” sport such as motocross can break through and knock aside a few mainstream sporting contenders, but Wairoa’s Tommy Watts is one young man who can do it.

The 15-year-old, a year 11 boarding pupil at Napier Boys’ High School, has been ringing a few warning bells with his motocross racing over the past couple of years and those results have not gone unnoticed.

 With two separate nominations to propel him into the spotlight at Friday night’s Wairoa Sportsperson of the Year awards dinner, Watts was “thrilled” to be called up to collect the Junior Sportsperson award. Then, later in the evening, he was called back to the stage a second time at the Wairoa Memorial Hall to collect the night’s top honour, overall Sportsperson of the Year.

 The youngster had fended off stiff competition for the top prize from Wairoa’s sporting elite, which included fellow finalists for the top award – Stephen Doole and Andy Hardie for services to football and Ngati Kahungungu Iwi Incorporated Senior Sportsperson of the Year Ngahiwi Manuel, for services to rugby union. 

“I had to make a bit of a speech,” said Watts. “I think I was more nervous about going up on to the stage to do that than I have ever been at a motocross race.

“We have a lot of top sports men and women in Wairoa and I thought someone else would get the awards.”

Watts’ mother, Bronnie, said she was very proud of her son. 

“He has been putting in a lot of hard work lately and being selected as a member of the Junior World Motocross Championships training squad has been a particular boost for him.”

Only the cream of the cop, just 15 riders from throughout New Zealand, have been selected to undertake special high-performance coaching ahead of the junior world championships in Australia next August.

“He is very passionate about his motocross racing and realises that, if he wants to step up, he needs to get fitter,” she said. “All his hard work has been paying off.

“He is also thrilled to be a part now of the HLR Husqvarna Racing Team and to learn what it’s like to be part of a very professional and high-profile team.”

 The glittering awards ceremony acknowledged Wairoa’s traditionally strong sporting talent and featured a popular guest appearance from former All Black and Kiwi League star Frano Botica.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan

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

Titles on the Line in Taranaki

Taylar Rampton is expected to be among the leading riders in the senior women’s class this weekend. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

NATIONAL TITLES GO ON THE LINE IN TARANAKI

Champions of the past, present and future will go head-to-head at the New Zealand Veterans’ and Women’s Motocross Championships in Taranaki this coming weekend.

It will again be two national champion events for the price of one, with racing over two days for both the elite females, in both the junior and senior grade, and the country’s top male riders, all of them aged over 30 years.

This 2017 edition of the vets’ and women’s nationals will be held on a circuit not previously used for national championship events – the freshly-groomed Hack Track, located between Hawera and Eltham – making it a level playground for all competitors this Saturday and Sunday, November 25-26.

The popular annual event will feature many riders who, despite their veteran status, still rate among the sport’s elite, while the female side of the sport that shares the race programme will be no less intense.

The champion last year in the senior women’s division, Kiwi international Courtney Duncan, from Otago, has not entered this time around, throwing wide open the battle for that title.

One rider who should consider herself a contender for senior women’s 17-29 years’ grade glory is Taranaki rider Taylar Rampton. 

The Opunake woman finished runner-up to Duncan in every race at the women’s nationals last season and, although that should almost be enough to guarantee her status as title favourite this time around, she knows she’ll face a tough time from the Edwards sisters from Motueka – Skye and Tyla Edwards.       

 Last season’s champion in the junior women’s 12-16 years’ grade, Te Awamutu’s Rachael Archer, will be back to defend her title and there she will face up to a third Edwards girl, Roma Edwards, and an on-form Shelby Catley, from Tauranga. 

The veterans’ entry list already reads like a who’s who and who-used-to-be-who of the sport.

Late entries are still expected to arrive from defending champions in several of the veteran men’s grades, although Blenheim’s Moston Wadsworth is one individual who has indicated that he’ll be back to defend his title in the veterans’ 55-59 years’ division.

Taranaki’s former national 500cc champion Mitch Rowe will certainly be a rider worth watching out for in the 50-54 years’ all-capacities class, as will New Plymouth’s former national 250cc No.2 David Furze .

 Former veterans’ world champion Tony Cooksley, of Papakura, should be untroubled to win the over-60 years’ all capacities division.

The 61-year-old Cooksley finished third-equal in the World Veterans’ Motocross Championships in California last year, level on the score-sheet with American former factory rider Chuck Sun, although the Kiwi was relegated to fourth overall on count-back.

 Racing kicks off at 10am both days and spectator entry is free.

The venue is located at 5271 Mountain Road, Eltham.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan