Full throttle for TT nationals this weekend
If you can picture superbike racing on a grass track, then you’ll have no trouble at all imagining what it may look like at the annual New Zealand Miniature TT Championships near Huntly this weekend.
Riders from all the various dirt bike codes – including a few road-racers too – will flock to the popular course at Taupiri, just north of Hamilton, this coming Saturday and Sunday for the TT nationals.
TT racing is like superbike racing on soil instead of tarmac – the racing is off-road and the competitors use dirt bikes or quad bikes, but, unlike motocross, there are no steep hills or skyward launch ramps to slow things down.
The entry list for the Kawasaki New Zealand-sponsored two-day event includes the stars of motocross, cross-country, enduro and even road-racing, All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and super motard and they will hit eye-watering speeds as they chase national glory this weekend.
The event will again be staged on rolling farm property at 456 Rutherfurd Road, Taupiri, made available by land owner Mark Fuller, who is a former national enduro and cross-country frontrunner and the father of rising star on the road-race scene, 18-year-old Zak Fuller.
There is little doubt that this father and son duo will also be racing this weekend.
"We didn't know we were even going to be able to run this event because of the COVID-19 pandemic," says host Patetonga Motorcycle Club spokesman Danny 'Gonk' Bryan.
"We are of course thrilled to be back at Level 1 restrictions and this means it's all go again and we're looking forward to an exciting weekend of racing.
"We are on the same farmland that we've been generously offered by the Fuller family for the past two years, although we'll have a fresh track in a different paddock this time around.
"Entry numbers are steadily climbing too. We had 168 riders show up in 2018, 178 last year and now we have 205 riders on the list ... so we're heading in the right direction in terms of support."
Some of the other riders who will certainly be worth watching include Tauranga's former national motocross champion Josiah Natzke and his Kawasaki team-mate from Waitakere, Ethan Martens, Cambridge's multi-time former national motocross champion Mike Cotter and New Plymouth's former national 500cc motocross champion Mitch Rowe.
Riders such as Stratford's multi-time national ATV champion Camo Keegan, Pukekawa's former national junior motocross champion Jack Dunlop, Red Beach rider Joseph Andrell, Hamilton's Alarn Young, Cambridge's Jared Hannon, Raglan's Quade Young and road-racing frontrunner Toby Summers, from Manukau, to name a few, will also perhaps fancy their chances of winning.
With racing for 10 separate championship classes over the two days, as well as support classes being run, the term "flat track" may be a little misleading, with the track expected to be rough and rutted by late Sunday afternoon, when rider fitness will play as much a part in the outcomes as any riders' bravery, skill or horsepower advantage.
Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com