After a record turnout at the final round of its summer club series, the Tauranga Motorcycle Club is ready to put its newly developed TECT All Terrain Park motocross facility to the test with national racing.
The club is hosting next month's New Zealand Junior Motocross Championship, expecting an entry of 250-300 riders including a handful of top-ranked Australians to chase the prized titles and number one plates.
The Whataroa Rd track opened for club events in February 2015 but has seen a major development drive in the last two years to lift its facilities to the level required for national events.
''It's been a massive effort,'' says club president Kelvin Meredith.
''We've been fortunate to gain funding grants from TECT, NZ Community Trust and First Sovereign Trust and also had huge support from sponsors who have donated the use of their equipment. Club members and families have put in thousands of hours at working bees.''
It's turned a previously gorse-covered area of recently felled pine trees into New Zealand's newest national grade motocross track.
In addition to carving out a 2km natural terrain track the infrastructure includes a large equipment shed, timing and race control hut with electronic lap scoring and a 40-rider start gate. Spectator areas with a view of the full track have been formed and one of the biggest projects has been an irrigation system for track preparation and dust control.
''The holding pond is three million litres and there are 150 sprinkler heads and about 3km of pipe work. It's all ready to go, we just need some rain to fill the pond,'' Meredith says.
With irrigation in place the club can increase use of the track, in particular through summer.
''We have our summer club series and also run Wednesday night practice sessions but it's been so dry we've had to cancel some of those,'' he says.
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''The track is becoming really busy. Coaches hire the track and both Yamaha and Kawasaki have booked training days for their team riders before the Junior Nationals.''
Last Sunday's final round of the club series was last race day before the Nationals in mid-April.
''Last weekend was a new record for our club series with 210 riders. We even had some juniors come from the South Island who wanted to race here before the Nationals.''
The track facilities have been built to cater for a big rider turnout.
''We're expecting up to 300 riders for the Nationals and our Schools MX last year was good test for that as we had over 300 riders.''
The Junior Nationals caters for riders from 8-years of age on 65cc and 85cc machines through to teenagers competing on 125cc and 250cc bikes who have already made their mark in the senior ranks but remain under-17 years at the time of the title.
''All the planning for the Nationals is coming together and we've had Farmer Auto Village and Yamaha New Zealand sign up as the major sponsor. It's also been confirmed the event will be live-streamed on the Sky Sport Next channel,'' Meredith says.
The new track configuration has design input from former world champion — and club vice-president — Ben Townley. Multiple formats can be raced with a full 2km track providing a lap time of just over two minutes for major events.
As well as hosting the event the Tauranga Motorcycle Club has some leading riders who will be chasing national title success in April.
Brodie Connolly has dominated the 125cc class in this years senior nationals and is likely to contest both 125cc and 250cc classes. Madoc Dixon has been the rider closest to Connolly's pace this summer while in the younger age groups Flynn Watts is a Tauranga contender in the 85cc class and Levi Townley is chasing 65cc success.
What: Farmer Auto Village/Yamaha 2020 New Zealand Junior Motocross Championship.
Where: Tauranga Motorcycle Club MX Track, Whataroa Rd, TECT All Terrain Park.
When: Friday, April 17-Sunday, April 19 2020.