Weather Control Switch

Patetonga Back on the Peat

maddix park mx

Amanda Fitzpatrick, the dynamic woman behind the Hauraki Plains College MX Team and the organizer of last week’s Patetonga Back on the Peat School MX event, would like to find the switch that controls the weather.  Last year, she had an over-abundance of rain; this year’s event fell in the middle of an unseasonal drought. Amanda wants the setting in between, particularly when she has 230 plus riders from 42 different schools fronting up on a Friday morning ready for action.

In spite of the valiant efforts of the water trucks, the peat soil of the recently harvested maize paddocks created challenging track conditions. Firstly, the soil was deep and soft and loamy but secondly, there was the powder-fine dust that infiltrated everywhere. The soil affected the riders. The dust affected the riders but, critically, the bikes as well.

Some riders, fearing for their motors, chose not to compete when they saw the clogged state of their air filters after a couple of laps. There were reports of bikes screaming their lungs out but not going anywhere and some did indeed die. But, the number of laps per race was reduced to make it not so hard on the bikes and most riders opted in for the day and had a thoroughly enjoyable and fun time.

So, in these conditions, who were the winners ? Even though the top school was Hamilton Boys followed by Gisborne Boys in 2nd place, Hauraki Plains College, St Johns and Wairoa tied on 3rd equal and then Paeroa and Matamata,   Amanda believes that all those who ride are winners – it’s part of her philosophy and the reason she organizes such events. She was delighted to have lots of new faces on the podium and to have no helicopters or ambos. (Click here for Amanda’s own report)

However, in general, if you were on an 85cc, you tended to fare better than the 125s as your bike was sucking in less air. If you were in a non-pro class doing slightly lower lap times, or if you rode smart and used the cut over maize lines to lessen the dust and the wallowing, then you also fared better.  And, of course, if you got a good start and stayed in front like Josiah Natzke from Hamilton Boys’ in the Pro 250s, then you missed out on the mid-pack mayhem and could clean sweep your class.

But, whatever your bike size or riding ability, on Friday, the key to survival centred on air filter diligence. The pit crews worked overtime cleaning them between races and trying to find ways to block out the dust.  “The dust was unbelievably fine,” commented one rider. “I had 2 covers but the dust went through both and into the airbox.” 

Ray Broad’s trick is to spray filter oil direct into the airbox itself. This stops the dust even reaching the filters. and is what no doubt helped his son Ben win all 3 Pro 125 races and Isaac to come 11th in the Intermediate 85cc class.

Christina Cameron, a member of the Otumoetai College Team, wants to thank Wesley Fuller’s Dad who cleaned her filters between the practice and race 1, and before her own Dad arrived. “I don’t think some people realized how bad the dust was at first. You don’t usually clean filters after the practice laps.”

Christina did all 3 races, gained 6th place in the Girls’ Open, and enjoyed her day.  It was her first race on her new bike and also the first race since her accident. “I did enjoy it and it was interesting” she says, “but it was also a little frustrating. The loose dirt made it hard work, especially coming out of the corners where there was half a metre of soft stuff. Everyone’s faces ended up a bit black. All you wanted was a drink and all you could taste was dust!”

Evan Hawkless (Otumoetai) had a DNF in race 1 – he couldn’t breathe with his black tongue, mouth and face – but two worthy second places gave him 5th for the day in the Pro 125cc class.

Other members from Otumoetai College who helped their school team to 8th place overall included Ben Hegarty who  didn’t get out of 3rd gear all day but who loved it and came 10th in the Intermediate 85cc class. Tristan Tolley, Cam McCaskie and Brad Holmes were 4th, 5th and 7th respectively in the Pro 250 class. Carlea Rameka was 18th in the Girls’ Open and had an awesome day and learnt heaps. Matt Nielsen was 4th and Nathan Rix 26th in the Intermediate 85cc.  Cameron Farley finished 6th, Chris Pedersen 11th , Adam Greenslade 18th  & Stefan Dwane 33rd in the Intermediate 125cc. Trent Cameron was 18th in the Pro 85cc class and Joseph Rowe was 16th in the Beginners 85cc ahead of Sam Redpath (17th) from Hamilton. Margaux Tolley and Samantha Ummber were 22nd and 23rd in the Girls’ class but didn’t compete in all the races. For OTC YouTube footage click here.

Bethlehem College was represented by their female riders. Georgia Woodward from Bethlehem College did all three races in her first ever race event, loved it and is really pleased with her 12th place on an 85cc in the Girls’ Open class that had mainly 125 and 250 riders. She finished one place behind her team mate Talia Rose Clark in 11th.

Tauranga Boys College had team members split between the Patetonga on the Peat event and the Taupo Tussock Buster.TBC results included Callum Ranger and Seb Still 9th & 11th in the Pro 125cc races, Luke Reid and Wesley Fuller 15th & 16th in the Intermediate 85cc and Daniel Molloy,  Ryan Martin and Connor Hawkless 17th, 27th & 28th respectively in the Intermediate 125cc.

Katikati College had Yvette Bouzaid and Kelsey Harvey 14th &17th in the Girls’ Open class plus Scott Nelson 24th in the Intermediate 85cc group.

Georgia Edwards from Te Puke High School made the podium with her 3rd place in the Girls’ Open with fellow student Nadia Salvidge 20th.

Full results are on MyLaps.

And, footnote from Amanda:

"I'm so impressed with all the positive feedback - so let's go back to the peat! Strictly for kids that want to ride and have fun. Date will be set as soon as I ask our principal - Hauraki Plains College MotoX team helping build MX in schools with a huge amount of support behind us and hopefully the drought behind us!"

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