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Yamaha's Purvis Looking Forward To The Challenge

If you're seeking an example of a David versus Goliath moment in motorcycle racing, Bay of Plenty's Maximus Purvis could perhaps provide you with the example.

The just-turned 19-year-old from Mangakino will shortly be leaving for Europe, the teenager honoured to earn selection to represent New Zealand at the Motocross of Nations (MXoN), commonly referred to as the "Olympic Games of Motocross".

The Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team rider will be joined by Taupo's Wyatt Chase and British-based Canterbury rider Dylan Walsh in forming the three-rider Team New Zealand strike force to compete at this annual teams' racing event, this year being held of the infield of the Assen TT track, in The Netherlands, on the weekend of September 28-29. Thousands of tons of sand will be trucked in and dumped on the tarmac to create the dirt bike track in front of the large grandstands at Assen.

A crowd of about 80,000 is expected to flock to watch the racing at this most important event on the international calendar, and the intrepid Kiwis know the pressure to perform will be immense. All three Kiwi riders will be making their debuts at this massive event, but Purvis is the youngest of the trio and possibly has the toughest job to do too – he will ride 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. Chase will race in the MXGP class at the MXoN and Walsh, currently racing the MX2 (250cc) class in the world championships in Europe, will be the MX2 class rider for Team New Zealand. But what Purvis may lack in horsepower, he more than makes up for with spirit and bravado.

"It feels fantastic to be representing my country at this event. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Purvis. "I have been riding every day in sand to get prepared for this. I have not really stopped training since the Australian Motocross Championships wrapped up a month ago, so I'm probably the fittest I've ever been." Purvis finished a close runner-up in the MX Development (Under-19) class in the Australian nationals this year. "I've watched a few videos of previous motocross events in the sand at Assen and I know it will be tough," said Purvis. "I'm really looking forward to the event. It's a dream come true for me." His Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team manager Josh Coppins agrees the MXoN will be an eye-opener for Purvis. "Obviously he would have preferred to race as New Zealand's MX2 class rider, but I totally understand why Dylan (Walsh) has that role for the MXoN. "It's a great honour to be selected for this team," said Coppins, himself a Team New Zealand rider at the MXoN on a record 13 occasions, the last time being when the event was held in Belgium in 2012. Coppins helped put New Zealand on the podium on three memorable occasions.

"Maximus (Purvis) has had a solid season of racing in both New Zealand and Australia and is ready to take the next step. But he has not raced a Yamaha YZ450 at all and so that's why he will race his familiar 250cc bike. "This will be a development year for Team New Zealand and I support this rebuilding process. "The deep Dutch sand will be a shock to him and so too will be the speed of the international riders."

Purvis is supported in New Zealand by the Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing team, 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,, Motoseat, SKF, Vertex Pistons, Rtech Plastics and Etnies.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan