Motocross: Champs decide juniors' futures

By Andy McGechan

This weekend will test young riders, writes Andy McGechan

Tauranga's Aaron Wiltshier (KTM) is among the title favourites in the 15-16 years' 125cc class. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
Tauranga's Aaron Wiltshier (KTM) is among the title favourites in the 15-16 years' 125cc class. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

The annual New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships are all about new beginnings and farewell performances and this weekend will be no exception.

This year's Dragon goggles-sponsored, three-day junior nationals hit the Taranaki region on April 26-28, with the steep Barrett Rd Motorcycle Park sure to be a stern test for riders.

Hundreds of the sport's elite young racers will cram the pits at the hilly venue, just outside New Plymouth.

Some as young as 8 will be arriving to make their junior motocross debuts and others are coming to sign off their junior careers before they turn 17 and head into the senior ranks or even to begin professional careers overseas.

Perhaps they will follow the example of Otago's former national junior champion, Courtney Duncan, now racing in the United States, or Rotorua's John Phillips, who is now carving a career path in Europe.

Among the riders expected to feature this weekend are boys who have recently dipped their toes in the senior cauldron - teenagers such as Atiamuri's Hadleigh Knight, Levin's Billy Frank, Rangiora's Dylan Walsh, Tauranga's Aaron Wiltshier and Taupo's Cohen Chase - and they will be favoured to dominate one or other of the eldest of the junior categories, the 15-16 years' 125cc class and the 14-16 years' 250cc class.

Hamilton's Josiah Natzke is another talented youngster who should feature. He will bravely tackle two classes, the 12-14 years' 125cc division and the 14-16 years' 250cc class.

Others to watch include BikesportNZ.com ace Xavier McBrydie, of Taupo, who has also been contesting the national cross-country championships in recent months, Te Kuiti's Sean Kelly, Opunake's Taylar Rampton, Motueka's Kairyn "Chathams" King, Onewhero's Jayden Turnwald and Blenheim's Reece Walker.

Australian champion Jesse Dobson will cause a stir in the 14-16 years' 250cc class and easily rates as one of the title favourites.

Former 500cc motocross world champion Shayne King, of New Plymouth, and former 250cc motocross world No 2 and current Australian MX1 champion, Josh Coppins, of Motueka, will attend to offer guidance and support over the weekend.

Taranaki's King is the main sponsor of the event, "putting something back" into the sport that has meant so much to him over the years.

"In terms of sheer numbers, this is perhaps the biggest event we have ever run in Taranaki," says King.

"We have hosted a round of the senior nationals in the past but this event will bring many more riders, plus mums, dads and supporters.

"We have had to completely redesign the parking facilities and install extra fencing for safety.

"We have constructed walk-through tunnels for spectators and built a new timing shed.

"The Taranaki Motorcycle Club committee has done a fantastic job.

"Being a major sponsor is special for me," he says. "It is great to be able to give something back to the sport."

- NZ Herald

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