Starting off their season in style were Team Manager Paul Whibley, who showed his international class by claiming a comprehensive victory in the senior category on his Yamaha YZ450FX and team youngster Wil Yeoman (14) with a dominant win in the Junior race.
The 2015 national cross-country champion, Whibley hasn’t raced in New Zealand for several seasons but the Taikorea-based legend demonstrated the speed and skill that saw him become a two-time Grand National Cross Country Championships (GNCC) winner in the United States. “I took the holeshot and led the way around the 23km Rangitikei region’s track. I opened up an early lead thanks to kicking up some dust and I knew I had to keep a strong pace up to prevent getting caught late in the race,” Whibley says. “The YZ450FX worked great and the MotoSR suspension soaked up everything the Marton property threw at us. I took the win with a solid lead after three hours over [three-time national champion] Brad Groombridge and Charles Alabaster,” Whibley adds. At the end of the demanding race, his Michelin rear tyre “had worked awesome all day and was still in great shape with no knobs missing,” he notes.
The cross-country circuit certainly suited Taupo’s Yeoman, who dominated the 90-minute Junior race - leading every lap. “The track had a great variety of terrain, with a really tight piece of bush single track which my Yamaha YZ125X handled awesomely. I was able to get the holeshot and had a few battles in the first lap before moving into first for the rest of the race,” he summarises. The other two PWR Yamaha riders had tough days out and are thankful the series’ format allows for the points from the best three rounds of four to count towards the overall title. Whanganui 21-year-old Seth Reardon says his race was “not what I wanted.” “I had a few issues with my start and that set me back to about 20th position. It was so hard to pass in the dusty conditions, but I made my way to 7th by the third lap. I then got a flat rear tyre halfway through that lap and had to pit to change it. I lost four placings in that process,” he says. He was able to charge back through the pack on his Yamaha YZ250FX to 6th overall and 1st in class 4 (0-300cc 4-stroke).
Cambridge-based 19-year-old Ashton Grey literally got bogged down, after entering a muddy hole. “About 10 minutes into the race, I made a bad judgement and rode into a big bog hole, where I was submerged up to the seat. I had to wait for marshals to come help get my bike out and ended up 10 minutes behind any other rider,” he says. He spent the rest of the three-hour race chasing the slower riders down and trying to make passes, to eventually finish 26th. “I’m able to learn from it. It was not what I would have liked to happen at the first round, and I’ll spend the rest of the series making that up,” a disappointed Grey says.
Team Manager Paul Whibley applauded landowner Cam Smith for doing an “amazing job with his Holly Farm track - mowing the faster grass section, and laying it out with plenty of spectator viewing as it weaved between open and steep farmland, bush-lined gorges, pine trees and native bush sections.” With five rounds until the second round, hosted by the Central Hawkes Bay Motorcycle Club on Sunday, March 22 at Flemington, the PWR Yamaha riders will have a chance to work on their fitness and make more gains in bike speed. Yamaha Motor New Zealand’s Motorsport Manager Josh Coppins says: “We were happy to see a lot of Yamaha representation across the various classes and great results achieved by the brand’s riders. With three rounds remaining, I look forward to seeing what our PWR Yamaha team can achieve.”
2020 NEW ZEALAND CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIP
Round 1 - Bushriders Motorcycle Club – Sunday 16th February – Marton
Round 2 – Central Hawkes Bay Motorcycle Club – Sunday 22nd March – Flemington
Round 3 – Marlborough Motorcycle Club – Sunday 26th April – Nelson
Round 4 – Taupo Motorcycle Club – Saturday 23rd May – Taupo
2020 NEW ZEALAND ENDURO CHAMPIONSHI
Round 1 - 29th March 2020, Whangamata (Thames Valley MCC) - CANCELLED
Round 2 - 18th April 2020, Tokoroa (South Waikato MCC)
Round 3 - 27th April 2020, Blenheim (Kapi Mana MCC)
Round 4 - 24th May 2020, Martinborough (Kapi Mana MCC)
Round 5 - 30th or 31st May 2020, TBC (Kapi Mana MCC)
PWR YAMAHA TEAM WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE FOLLOWING SPONSORS:
Yamaha Motor New Zealand, Yamalube, GYTR, YMF, YMI, Motomuck, Workshop Graphics, MotoSR, Oneal, Arai, Oakley, IMS, Zeta, Tire balls, TCX, Michelin, Renthal, Twin Air, USWE, EK Chain & Brownell Earthmoving.