The cream of the crop descended on Timaru at the weekend for the 2020 edition of the New Zealand ATV championships, and they dealt up some of the closest four-wheel quad bike racing ever seen in the country.
The ATV nationals were staged at the Backflips Dirt Farm ATV facility at Pleasant Point. It proved an ideal venue at Labour Weekend for what turned out to be true edge-of-the-seat racing.
Stratford’s Camo Keegan did manage to defend his title in the premier grade win record to six national ATV titles relax with his younger brother Scott Keegan, the national ATV champion in 2015, multi-time former national ATV champion Ian Ffitch, of Amberley, and Christchurch’s Craig Cox keeping him honest throughout.
However, the closest racing came in the 450cc production class: Dunedin’s Devan Whitelock and Christchurch’s Taylor Graham were locked together on identical points after the first day, and the battle between them went right down to the final race of the weekend, Whitelock eventually taking the title by just four points.
Christchurch’s George Doig was also close enough to fancy his title chances in this class, although he had to settle for third overall.
Graham’s father, Greg Graham, won the veterans’ class, finishing ahead of Gisborne’s Ian Newman and Blenheim’s Gary Doig.
“The racing was brilliant and we were spoiled with the weather too,” Motorcycling New Zealand ATV commissioner Dennis Cox said.
“It was hot and dry on Saturday, but became overcast Sunday and that meant we had ideal conditions.
“It was a bit of a shame that it was a battle of attrition in the premier grade and we ended up with just four competitors on Sunday, but what this class lacked in numbers was certainly made up for with talent.
“They were really mixing it up.
“It was a pity, too, that Ian Ffitch could not sign off his career with another title win.
“He blew a shock and then crashed, so it wasn’t to be.
“I know he had been training hard and it was definitely not the swansong he’d been hoping for.”
Other class winners: Christchurch’s Bailey Graham (250cc production); Weedons’ Fraser van Herpt (125cc production); Stratford’s Nicola Reid (women’s class); Christchurch’s Max Le Compte (clubmans) and Springston’s Conner Brocherie (Minis). www.BikesportNZ.com
-Andy McGechan, Timaru Courier