The Yamaha New Zealand Extreme Off-Road Championship series will reach the halfway stage this weekend, with the country’s elite dirt bikers determined to stake their claim on the coveted crown.
All but one rider is capable of moving up in the standings and that individual is Wainuiomata’s Jake Whitaker, the multi-talented rider who won the opening round of the series near Porirua two weeks ago.
Whitaker will be furiously trying to defend his position at the top and he knows that won’t be easy, with the cream of New Zealand’s dirt biking talent again lined up against him at round two in the Taungatara Forest, not far from Whangamata, on Saturday.
Riders such as Helensville’s Tom Buxton, the man who was runner-up in Porirua, Lower Hutt’s Ryan Scullion, New Plymouth’s Tony Parker, Rotorua’s Bradley Lauder, Wainuiomata’s Jordan Blake and Whanganui’s 2019 national enduro champion Seth Reardon will be among those who fancy their chances of strengthening respective positions with a top finish on Saturday.
Round three of the series is to be a two-dayer in Hawke’s Bay on October 31 and November 1, with the competition again wrapping up with another double-header weekend, at the Nut Buster hard enduro at Oxford, near Christchurch, on November 14-15.
Only three of the four rounds of the NZ Extreme Off-road Championship are to be counted, with riders discarding their one worst score from the three North Island rounds, while riders hoping to win the series outright should obviously factor in a trip to the Nut Buster final round in the South Island.
Motorcycling New Zealand enduro commissioner Justin Stevenson said the course at Whangamata would be similar to last year at the same venue, but “with a few different tracks” cut through the forest.
“There has not been much dirt bike activity in the forest because of the fire risk earlier this year and then the COVID-19 pandemic restricts which curtailed many events in New Zealand anyway.
“Whangamata is always going to be a challenging ride, particularly for the course being set for the Gold and Silver-graded riders. It’s pretty gnarly stuff, but that’s why we call this an ‘extreme off-road championship’ … it’s what riders should expect.”
The 2020 Yamaha NZ Extreme Off-Road Championships are supported by Mitas tyres, Macaulay Metals, Best Build Construction, Silver-bullet and Kiwi Rider magazine.