Reardon took his Yamaha YZ250FX to head a talent-laden field of New Zealand's most skilled off-road bike racers across muddy and treacherous farmland terrain south of Martinborough on Sunday, including one of the men who he'd "always looked up to", as a younger rider coming up through the ranks.
The 21-year-old apprentice engineer edged out Manawatu's Paul Whibley (Yamaha YZ450F), a two-time former cross-country champion in the United States, who was making his series debut on Sunday, and Reardon knew then that the signs were good that he could go on to win his first national title this year. Eketahuna's Charlie Richardson finished the day third overall, but neither Whibley nor Richardson so far feature among the leading title contenders and Reardon knows now that the championship is possibly only his to lose. Sunday's result means Reardon has now gone from third to first in the championship standings and he will aim to strengthen his position at the next round of the series near Masterton in three weeks' time, on June 29. With the points from only six of the seven rounds to be counted – riders to discard their one worst result – the race for the championship win outright, and for the various class titles too, could still go down to the wire at the double-header final weekend, rounds six and seven, at Hokitika, in Westland, in July. "It was certainly a good day for me at Martinborough," enthused Reardon afterwards. "It's the first time that I've done the nationals at expert level and to beat someone like Paul Whibley is pretty special indeed. Not many people can beat Paul Whibley at events like this. "He was cool about it too, congratulating me afterwards. "I was suffering a bit at Martinborough because I'd hurt my shoulder at another event the previous weekend – cracked my collarbone actually – and so I was riding very cautiously. "But that worked in my favour anyway, because the conditions were so slippery that this was exactly what was needed to get the job done. I was in a bit of pain, but didn't notice it too much when I was riding.
"I'm pretty excited to be leading the national championships. I have raced before at the venue for the next round at Masterton ... it's forestry and pretty technical ... but I like that." Motorsport manager for Yamaha Motor New Zealand, Motueka's Josh Coppins, was an observer at the weekend and said he was thrilled with the weekend's results. "This is an area of the market that we are trying to improve in and Seth (Reardon) is obviously going ahead in leaps and bounds," he said. "It was good too to see Paul Whibley back in action and hopefully we can work together with him to improve things and increase Yamaha's market share on both the enduro and cross-country scenes." Reardon is supported by Bailey Motorcycles, 24/7 Beancounter, W&W Construction, BluCru Yamaha NZ, JCR Yamaha, PWR, Yamalube, Forbes and Davies, Dunlop tyres, Eks goggles, Boss engineering, JW Seatcovers, MT View screenprints and Northern Accessories.
2019 Yamaha NZ Enduro Champs calendar:
Round 1 – Saturday, March 16 – Thames
Round 2 – Saturday, April 6 - Kapiti
Round 3 – Saturday, April 20 – South Waikato
Round 4 – Sunday, June 9 – Martinborough
Round 5 – Saturday, June 29 – Bideford, Masterton
Round 6 – Friday, July 19 – Hokitika, Westland
Round 7 – Saturday, July 20 – Hokitika, Westland
Words and photo by Andy McGechan