More to racing at full throttle than meets the eye
A few surprises, some upsets and also many results that were perhaps entirely expected - the 2021 New Zealand MX TT Nationals over the Easter weekend has had it all.
The Kawasaki-sponsored annual event, on grassy farmland at Taupiri, near Huntly, has featured many of the elite of all the various bike codes, with road-racing champions lining up alongside enduro greats, cross-country experts and motocross heroes too.
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 there's no high-flying jump action. With wheels staying on the ground, however, it meant the track cut up extremely rough by the end of the action-packed two days of racing at Taupiri.
The host Patetonga Motorcycle Club prepared a spectacular course and the racing was close throughout.
With racing for 19 separate classes over the two days, the term "flat track" may have been a little misleading, with ruts and bumps creating havoc near the end of the weekend.
With riders almost equal in the horsepower stakes, it was the riders who started fastest, accelerated soonest and braked the latest who benefitted the most.
Best to cope with the tricky conditions were Taranaki brothers Camo and Scott Keegan, respectively ranked national No.1 and No.2 on the ATV - all terrain vehicle - motocross scene, and between them they shared all five wins at the weekend's TT nationals too.
"I had some good battles with my brother and it's always fun racing with Scott," says elder brother Camo, aged 31.
"We know each other pretty well, all the tricks too, so we have to go pretty hard to beat the other. We have huge respect for one another and wouldn't do anything silly."
There were also several dominant performances from the motorcycle racers, with Inglewood's Renny Johnston outstanding in winning the premier MX1 class, even though riding a 350cc enduro bike against equally-talented riders on mostly 450cc motocross machinery, and he rode the same bike to also win the veterans' 35-44 years' class.
Te Aroha's Luke van der Lee was unbeaten in the MX2 class, while Auckland's Damon Nield was unstoppable in the senior 125cc class and in the enduro class as well. Hamilton’s Mikayla Rowe dominated the senior women’s class and also the Classic Pre-2002 bikes class.
Rotorua's Ticayla Manson narrowly won the junior women’s 12-16 years' 150cc and 250cc class ahead of Ngatea's Brooke Dalley, while Waimauku's Ruby Leach won the junior women’s 8-16 years' 85cc and 150cc class by the identically-close three-point margin over Riverhead’s Thalia Heilson.
New Plymouth's Mitch Rowe almost unstoppable in the veterans' over-45 years and the Classic Pre-1996 bikes class too, while New Plymouth's Shane Smith won the Clubman MX3 class.
Other class winners this year were Te Awamutu's Jack Carmichael (junior 14-16 years', 250cc); Waihi's Luke Maitland (junior 12-16 years', 125cc); Hamilton's Carson Mackie (junior 12-16 years', 85cc); Wairoa's Connor Cavaney (mini 65cc) and Helensville's Adam Bockett (mini 50cc).