There were plenty of good battles at the 2019 New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships - but one battle in particular involving Tauranga's Madoc Dixon was a stand out.
This was because there was virtually nothing to separate Dixon from Palmerston North's Luka Freemantle at the head of the field of the 15-16 years' 125cc class.
Pukekawa's Jack Dunlop, Te Aroha's Luke van der Lee and Paraparaumu's Brock Sullivan were also pushing hard on the track at Himatangi near Palmerston North at the weekend.
Dixon (KTM) won four of the seven races in the class over the three days – two races held on Friday, three on Saturday and two on Sunday – while fellow KTM star Freemantle won two of them and finished no worse than third in his other outings.
In the end it was Dixon who prevailed, claiming his first national title by just two points from Freemantle, the Manawatu teen also celebrating his best result at a nationals event.
"At the start of the weekend I was hoping for a top-five finish, but first is even better," said the just-turned 15-year-old Dixon, actually making his debut in this class.
"I've been close to the top a couple of times, but now I've finally done it. I finished seventh last year after not finishing one of the races (in the 12-14 years' 125cc class on that occasion).
"I knew I had to finish top-three in the last race, but was not pushing too hard in case I tipped over.
"Luka and I are good mates and we congratulated each other afterwards."
The Lucas Oils and Alpinestars-sponsored event was gruelling in the extreme, the sand-based course sapping energy as the hollows deepened over the three days and threatened to swallow up the rapidly-tiring young riders.
In all, riders of KTM bikes won five of the seven titles on offer at the weekend, with Rongotea's Seth Henson claiming the other 125cc class, for riders aged between 12 and 14 years, by just three points from fellow KTM hero Cobie Bourke, of Manukau.
The brawl for honours in both the 125cc categories was the closest of any at the event, the title fight in both cases going right down to the final race of the weekend.
Meanwhile, double-class ironman Bourke (KTM) successfully defended his 14-16 years' 85cc title, while Tokanui's Mitchell Weir (KTM) won six out of seven races to comfortably collect the 12-13 years' 85cc title ahead of Darfield's Tyler Wiremu (KTM) and Invercargill's Seth Morrow, only recently recovered from injury, won four of his seven races in the 8-11 years' 85cc class to claim that title by 11 points from Hamilton's Jack Coleman (Husqvarna).
Pukekawa's Jack Dunlop (Yamaha) won the 14-16 years' 250cc title ahead of Otautau's Jack Treloar (Husqvarna) and Dunedin's Grason Veitch (KTM), while Oropi's Levi Townley (Yamaha) won the new 8-11 years 65cc title, ahead of Auckland's Jack Ellingham (KTM) and Pahiatua's Maz Parkes (KTM).
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