No Foregone Conclusions

NZ MX Junior Nationals 2015

maddix park mx

For better or for worse, it was a great weekend: top motocross racing, fantastic atmosphere, people largely “land-bound” in mud that even the 4x4s had trouble confronting, plus a few mosquitoes as a bonus. The weather went from one extreme to the next with heavy rain stopping Friday’s racing, a late start to Saturday and the programme of 7 races cut down to 5 per class. The club did a brilliant job clearing the mud after the weather pulled the pin and drenched the beginning of the three day event but the hot sun did arrive and helped dry out the remaining sloppiness.

Great, really tight racing, no foregone conclusions and titles that came down to the wire predominated. It was really important to get a good start and try stay on 2 wheels.   Picking the right line, negotiating the deep ruts and hanging in there on a rough track all provided a challenge for the juniors.

Amongst the local riders competing were:

Tyler Steiner normally hates clay, but in his first race he “flew like a bat out of hell” gaining a win that confirmed him as one of the top contenders in the 14-16 Years 250F class. In spite of a particularly draining flu virus that affected his breathing, he wouldn’t quit and stayed in the top 5. When it came to the last race, he had third basically in the bag, but just ran out of energy and so finished just off the podium in 4th place.

Cameron Smyth, Nick Heyblom and Jesse Bussas (top picture).

Jovhann Phillips(at left), in the same class, had a shocker of a weekend. He qualified 3rd but two DNFs, one on the Friday when the bike cam cover was punched into the engine by a handlebar and the second on day 2 two laps before the end of a race when a back marker cleaned him out and his bike spun sidewards left little room for the expected top 5 placing.

Marshall Phillips, his cousin from Christchurch, was much more successful, taking third place behind Dunedin’s Grason Veitch and Matamata’s Brodie Connelly in the 11-12 years 85cc class.

Josh Tredinnick rode solidly and consistently in the 15-16 Years 125cc class. His 9th to 12th results gave him 10th place overall.

Brad Cameron, was seeking a top 15 result in the same class but was pleased with his 19th considering the crashes and bike throttle problems he had to deal with. “Race 1 was my best one,” says Brad. “I was 5th to the corner, then 7th but dropped it in a rut and finished 11th. Race 2, I was again running 7th when, after a collision, I went over the handlebars and down to 38th but I managed to get back to 27th so I’m happy with my lap times.” More crashes with one damaging his throttle meant that in spite of, for example, a good start in race 5, he just kept dropping back. Nevertheless, overall, Brad had a good time - « That’s just how racing goes ! »

Brad Jeffrey rode the 125cc 12-14 Years class and was another in frequent combat with a troublesome clutch. Unfortunately he DNFed one of the races, when he flipped his bike off the start.

In Kydd Catley’s 13-16 Years 85cc class, the top 5 riders are in a league of their own. However, although he had his share of wipeouts and bad starts, Kydd was on fire and involved with his own personal race battle with Jacob Deal. They both finished on the same points with Kydd making the top 10.

It should be noted that the Catley family received a special “sportsmanship” mention at the event. The family lent Shelby’s bike to a young Hawkes Bay boy who had had his stolen just prior to the Nationals. Moto City came to the party with a free bike checkover and the unfortunate, now fortunate, rider was able to compete.  Well done.

For Trent Duggan, it was, overall, a good experience.  The initial challenge was coping with the ruts, the weather and falling off but the track got better as the weekend progressed. Trent has just started in this 13-16 years 85cc age group so he was pleased with his lap times. “I was aiming for the top 15”, he reports, “but the race depended on a good start and I didn’t quite make it”. “19th wasn’t too bad,” he adds, “But I’ll be back next year,”.

Alex Fraser-Brown had a mixed bag weekend in the 1-12 Years 85cc group.  His starts were not always so good but aggressive passing meant he was able to get back up the field on a technical track with ruts deep enough to wipe feet off the pegs. His worst result came when he had to wait for help to pull his bike out of a section of muddy quagmire.

Sam Cooper and Dylan Tredinnick competed in this same class with mixed bag results as well.  Their top results, a 21st and a 17th respectively, were very creditable under the tough conditions and against a very strong 36 rider field.

Luke Fraser-Brown is in his first year in the 85s in the 8-10 Years category.  He thinks inside his helmet and came back from each race with a smile. Nationals are a big learning curve.

Kyan Loomans was the most successful of these younger 85cc riders.  At the end of Saturday, he was in 8th position and it wasn’t looking overly positive.  However, a 3rd, a 5th and a brilliant 2nd on the Sunday left him over the moon and just off the podium in 4th place. 

Madoc Dixon was not far behind in 6th position. He had wanted 5th but a lot of crashes in ruts and around corners meant it wasn’t to be. His best race was the one in which he didn’t come off – he finished 3rd. It may have been too wet and too rutted but it’s all good prep for the mini nationals in October.

Kristian Crane competed in the 8-11 Years 65cc Support Class. He had a bit of bad luck - he got taken out while in 2nd place in one race, a bike problem had him stuck in 5th gear and it was particularly difficult with the deep ruts. He received a number 6 NZ trophy but because it was a support class, this is not a national number.

The track was tough for these young riders. The ruts were as deep as a 250cc tyre.  They were the last group out so they had the roughest conditions and all did amazingly well to stay on and get around the track.

Full results are on MyLaps .

Photos courtesy of Bridgette Tolfrey 

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