And the colours he was flying were that of Team New Zealand at this year’s 73rd annual Motocross of Nations – commonly referred to as “The Olympic Games of Motocross” – in The Netherlands at the weekend.
All three members of this year’s three-rider Team New Zealand were making their debuts at this massive event, but Mangakino teenager Purvis was the youngest of the trio and certainly had the most daunting task ahead of him, racing his 250cc Yamaha YZ250F in the Open Class, lining up against some of the world's elite big bike riders, all of them on 450cc machines. His two team-mates were Taupo’s Wyatt Chase and Belgian-based Christchurch rider Dylan Walsh. Chase raced a 450cc bike in the MXGP class at the MXoN and Walsh, who had just won the British MX2 (250cc) title a week earlier, was racing his 250cc bike in the MX2 class at the MXoN. But what the just-turned 19-year-old Purvis may have lacked in raw horsepower, he more than made up for with guts and determination.
The Team New Zealand trio qualified 17th overall of the 34 nations entered during preliminary racing on Saturday and that earned them a starting place in the three 40-bike main event races the following day – with only 20 countries qualified and two riders per country lining up each time. Purvis finished 27th out of 40 riders in the combined MXGP and Open class race early on Sunday, then backed that up with a 33rd overall result in his combined MX2 and Open class race that followed. With that his weekend was over and he could only now sit back and see how his two team-mates fared. Chase finished 34th (in the MXGP and MX2 race) and then 38th (MXGP and Open class), while Walsh twice finished 39th (in the MX2 and Open race and then also in the MXGP and Open race). Chase had suffered severe bruising after a mid-week practice crash and impressed that he could still race at all, while Walsh suffered mechanical failure in his first race and then he crashed out of his second race, ending with a broken collarbone). In the end, that meant that Purvis was actually the best-performed of the Kiwis. “I have loved every bit of it here, my first time in Europe.
The wow factor for me is just about how many people are here at the event and how fast these riders are,” he said. “Racing the 250cc bike against the 450s was tough because I was getting out-dragged out of every corner but I just had to keep my momentum up. “The sand here is way different than anything I’ve struck before. It was way thicker and heavier than anything at (my home track at) Taupo. It sucks the power right out of the bike.” Purvis left Europe immediately after the MXoN event and headed to Australia where he will be racing the supercross nationals there. Next season he will follow his 2020 New Zealand nationals campaign, where he will race next year in the MX2 class after finishing third in the 125cc class this year, by heading to Australia to race the MX2 class at the motocross nationals there.
Purvis is supported by Altherm Window Systems, Yamaha Motor New Zealand, JCR, CRC, Ados, GYTR, Yamalube, bLU cRU, Fox Racing, YMI, YMF, Twin Air, Hollands Collision Centre, Star Moving, Ward Demolition, Pirelli, Akrapovic, DID, NGK, Renthal, Motomuck, www.workshopgraphics.co.nz, Motoseat, SKF, Vertex Pistons, Rtech Plastics and Etnies.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan