COMC adds women's class

By Catherine Pattison on Sat, 20 May 2017 | Latest News | Motorbikes
| Image 1 of 1 |
Jody Tuffs, photographed here riding her Kawasaki KXF 250, is keen to see more Otago motocross events offering women's classes. PHOTO: PHOTO CROSS

Wanaka's Jody Tuffs is a keen advocate for women motocross riders, even if it has to be from her armchair for the time being.

After starting her racing career later in life - about 18 months ago - the 40-year-old had notched up some impressive results around the southern region before a ''freak accident'' on the track saw her forced to park up her Kawasaki KXF 250 while she completes a lengthy rehabilitation process.

Last year, Tuffs was instrumental in establishing a women's class for the Central Otago Motorcycle Club's (COMC) annual King of Central MX event, which she went on to win. The event is on again next Sunday at the Cromwell Motocross Track in Bannockburn Rd and, although Tuffs will be helping out as a club committee member rather than riding due to her leg injury, her enthusiasm for ''pushing hard out to get a ladies class'' as a regular category in Otago events is undiminished.

''I've been a bit of a voice for women because it is a man's sport I guess,'' she said.

''A lot of girls won't race with the boys. It's pretty intimidating.''

Tuffs' former partner used to race motocross bikes and after they broke up, she ''decided to give it a crack''.

There is a strong women's racing scene in Nelson and Canterbury, with up to 25 women entering each race meet, and last year she found herself travelling the length of the South Island to compete. It was well worth it, with Tuffs winning the women's motocross class at the 2016 New Zealand Masters Games in Dunedin and emerging victorious in the Southern Series. She also notched up seconds at the Southland and South Canterbury Championships.

Keen to establish women's classes closer to home, Tuffs contacted Otago event organisers and asked for them to be added to race programmes. She now has a ''wee posse of girls'' who are racing regularly and as soon as her injury is healed, she will be back on her bike joining them.

COMC president Ivan Taylor said the club has embraced having a separate class for women and has also added an MX3 category ''just for people that want to come have a go on the day that don't normally race''.

''Between the ladies and the MX3 class we are just trying to promote the sport,'' Taylor added.

Both of these categories will be timed races, so those participating can compare their lap times to more seasoned racers.

Everyone competing will reap the benefits of two recent working bees at the Bannockburn Rd track, which have seen some ''big upgrades'', Taylor said.

While the motocross event was only held once the dusty summer months were over, the club, which has a membership of about 65, recently hosted an enduro ride at Bannockburn's Cairnmuir Station.

Taylor said the club was grateful to local company BWC Contracting.

''BWC gave us a digger for the weekend. They are sponsoring this event [King of Central MX] and they also sponsor the speedway here in Cromwell and they also sponsor events at Highlands. Without companies like that, it's hard for motorsport to operate.''

Entries for the King of Central MX will remain open this week, with entry forms available on the My Rides website.

Any women motocross riders wanting to get in touch with Jody Tuffs to find out which Otago events offer women's classes can contact her at jody_tuffs@hotmail.com