The high-profile AmPro Yamaha Race Team in the United States now has another Kiwi to wave their flag. Te Awamutu cross-country ace Rachael Archer has signed on to ride a Yamaha YZ250FX in the US later this year and for the entire 2019 season of racing the women’s grade in the Grand National Cross-country Championships (GNCC).
It follows on from the successful career enjoyed by Manawatu’s Paul Whibley, who also raced for the AmPro Yamaha Race Team, run by American legend Randy Hawkins, and it was Whibley’s recommendation that led to Archer being offered the contract, effective from October 1. “I am very excited about the opportunity I have been offered,” said Archer, aged 16, a year 12 pupil at St Peter’s School in Cambridge. She will be based in Travelers Rest, South Carolina, with the GNCC competition venues mostly along the east coast of the US. “I raced a couple of GNCC events over there last year, then riding a 125cc bike, finishing seventh in the women’s grade at round one. I was running second at round two, but lost time refuelling my small fuel tank and ended up finishing the race fourth. “I think I settled in pretty quickly and got up to speed pretty quickly too. I’ll be on a 250cc bike now and I’m going faster now than I was then too, so the results might be even better.
Rachael would like to make a mention of her past sponsors before she moves on to the next stage of her career. “I owe a huge thanks to Patrick Stafford (of Husqvarna NZ) and Shaun Prescott (of the Husqvarna Off-Road Race Team) for their support in the past. Without the support from them I probably wouldn’t be at the level of riding I am at now. “I have been offered a position to race for the AmPro Yamaha team in America and it is an amazing opportunity that is very hard come by. Personally, this opportunity is super exciting and means I can continue to grow and pursue my dream of being a pro racer.” Her mentor, Whibley, was as a two-time outright winner of the GNCC series in the US (in 2009 and 2012) and he was a record six-time winner of the parallel Off-Road Motorcycle and ATV (OMA) series as well.
He was also New Zealand cross-country champion for Yamaha in 2015. “I am pretty excited to see Randy (Hawkins) come on board with some support for Rachael,” said Whibley. “I’m thrilled to see her have her foot in the door in the US, but it’s icing on the cake that she’s now with Yamaha too. “She needs to go over for a couple of events this year, just to learn a few more of the US tracks, but also to learn how the new team operates. “She will be extremely competitive over there. She showed that during her first trip there last year. “She is one of the youngest competitors in the class, but she has the work ethic and drive and I know she can be a champion.” Archer is supported by Yamaha Motor New Zealand, Paul Whibley Racing (PWR) Yamaha, Blackwood Yamaha, MotoSR suspension, Fox New Zealand, BikesportNZ.com, Workshop Graphics, Dr Trim and Tekmo carbon fibre.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan.