Many months of hard work by the South Otago Motorcycle Club will come to fruition today as it hosts the opening round of the motocross nationals.
The track at Riverside Reserve in Glasgow St, Balclutha, has not hosted a motocross event of this magnitude before and club president Adam Robertson had a long thank you list. Firstly, his ‘‘small club and small committee’’ needed a mention for preparing the circuit to the standard required by the country’s best riders, who will be battling it out across the four classes.
‘‘We are all pretty passionate and we are all riders,” Robertson said.
He was also grateful to local businesses for helping out with machinery — noting that the preparation wouldn’t have happened without their support.
Former international star Ben Townley, of Tauranga, also got a shout out, as he comes down to Balclutha every year to ride in the Hasler Memorial MX event and urged the club to apply to Motorcycling New Zealand (MNZ) to host a round of the championship.
‘‘He said you’ve got the facilities, the track is great and the dirt is great,’’ Robertson said.
One rider who is particularly looking forward to racing on it today, is Balclutha’s Madison Latta (19), who will be riding his Husqvarna FC 250 in the MX2 class.
‘‘I’m really excited to have it [the nationals] back in the South Island, but especially having it in my home town,’’ he said.
Latta recently finished second in the New Zealand Supercross Championships SX2 (250cc) category and is hoping the sandy, silty, loamy surface gets “roughed up and quite rutted” because that suited his riding style, he said.
Latta is working as an apprentice motorbike mechanic at Balclutha Honda, which is a handy profession when it comes to fine tuning his racing machine.
‘‘I know how to have the bike set-up and know if it is running good, or bad,’’ he said.
Latta has some stiff competition in the MX2 class, with many of the main contenders now race-ready after last weekend’s annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville.
Mangakino's Maximus Purvis returned from injury to claim the win.
Christchurch's Dylan Walsh has come home after winning the 2019 British Motocross Championship’s MX2 class to race in New Zealand over the 2020 four-round nationals and joins Oparau's James Scott among the favourites.
In the top-tier MX1 class, Auckland's Hamish Harwood won at the stand-alone Woodville event but Mt Maunganui's defending national champion Cody Cooper and other top riders, such as visiting Australian Kirk Gibbs, Waitakere's Ethan Martens and Taupo's Hadleigh Knight, will be doubling their efforts with national titles at stake.
The 125cc class, which is the breeding ground for future stars, is on the programme, along with the new YZ65 Cup support class.
MNZ motocross commissioner Ray Broad will be at the Balclutha track.
‘‘It is great to be back in the South Island and we are looking forward to some great support from the locals,’’ he said.
After today’s round, the championship heads to Rotorua on February 23, Hawke’s Bay on March 1 and winds up in Taupo on March 15.
- Catherine Pattison