The 26-year-old electrician from Titirangi took his Yamaha YZ250FX to win the first two of six rounds in this Paul Whibley-inspired competition, but he was then forced to settle for runner-up finishes, both times behind friend and rival Sam Greenslade at the two rounds that followed, at Woodhill Forest and Matata, in September and October respectively.
May was again runner-up at round five on Saturday, this time behind Helensville's Tom Buxton, but even that second-place performance could be classed as remarkable, with May having to charge through the entire field after a poor start, the race set in a damp a treacherous Riverhead Forest, west of Auckland. Saturday's race was a triple-header, billed as the stand-alone Dead Toad cross-country race, but also recognised as the second of three rounds in NZ's Grand National Cross-country Series and the fifth round of five in the Yamaha NZXC Series as well. Saturday's result was sufficient for May to push out to 36 points his overall NZXC Series lead over the new man who is second on the points table, Whanganui's Seth Reardon.
Fellow Yamaha rider Reardon finished fifth at Riverhead on Saturday, while Greenslade, the man who had been May's main NZXC Series rival, was a non-starter on Saturday, ruled out by injury. But it was Buxton who finished on top on Saturday, beating May to the finish line by a solid seven minutes at the end of the gruelling two-hours-plus dirt bike race. "I had a terrible start and I had to fight past a lot of riders," May explained. "I was up to about sixth or seventh place after the 25-minute first lap, just inside the top 10 or so (out of the more than 80 starters), and got into a hot battle with Dylan Yearbury (from Cambridge). "Tommy (Buxton) earned a good win over me. He was a long way ahead and had a clear track ahead of him." Due to overseas commitments, Buxton did not contest all the earlier rounds of the NZXC Series, so this means he won't be a threat to May's NZXC Series ambitions. Third overall on Saturday was Yearbury, with Tokoroa's Jake Wightman and then Reardon eventually rounding out the top five. Meanwhile, in the 90-minute junior race held earlier in the day, Taupo's Wil Yeoman took his Yamaha YZ125 to win by just six seconds over Tirau's Alex Butler, with Whangaparoa's Daniel Refoy claiming the third step on the podium. May will now prepare for the NZXC Series final round at Waimiha and he is also looking overseas for competition in the New Year. "I am planning to do a few races in Australia and just trying to work out a few details at the moment. I'll see how the next round of the NZXC Series goes and then work it all out from there and see where it takes me. Nothing is set in stone."
May is supported by Yamaha Motor New Zealand, Kiwi Rider magazine, BikesportNZ.com, The Dirt Guide, O'Neal, Oakley, Michelin, TCX Boots, Renthal, Zeta, Twinair, Graphic Creations, City Electrix and Construct Now.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan