Auckland’s Callan May made the debut outing on his new bike a winning one. And it was twice as good as any win he’s experienced.
The 24-year-old Titirangi electrician rode his Yamaha YZ250FX to a convincing win in forestry land south of Tokoroa just over a week ago. That event doubled as round one of the Dirt Guide Cross-country Series and as round one of the parallel but separate NZXC Cross-country Series.
That means, with this one impressive race win under his wheels, May leads two different competitions at the same time. The challenge now will be for him to carry on and maintain his position in both.
The NZXC series, created by Yamaha’s two-time former US Grand National Cross-country Champion Paul Whibley, is into its second season and this competition piggy-backs on to some of the best races that feature as a part of several other competitions.
Howick's Liam Draper on the Husqvarna FE250 Picture/ Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
The next round of the NZXC series is set for July 31, sharing the day with the Woodhill Two-man Cross-country Series; while the next round of the Dirt Guide Series is at Ohakuri, near Tokoroa, on August 7.
It’s just as well, then, that May is self-employed and can take time off work. “I worked for nine hours on the Saturday and then drove to race at Tokoroa on the Sunday,” he said.
“It’s my first time on this bike. I’ve been racing the Yamaha YZ250X (two-stroke) since returning to New Zealand in November (following two successful seasons of racing in the Grand National Cross-country Championships series in the United States), and it was nice to be back on the four-stroke again.”
May raced a Yamaha YZ250FX in the US in 2014 and 2015, finishing sixth and 10th overall respectively, in the XC2 Pro (250cc) class of the GNCC series.
It turned into a thrilling battle at Tokoroa, with May leading early on until coming under pressure from Howick rider Liam Draper (Husqvarna FE250).
“The muscles in my arms got pumped up at the start because I hadn’t raced for about two weeks and because I was on a new bike. Once I was warmed up, I was okay,” May said.
“I felt comfortable and was in second spot around the first corner. I was into the lead soon after that but then Liam (Draper) started to catch me. He got past me when I crashed.
Te Awamutu's Daniel White (Kawasaki KX250F), runaway winner of the 90-minute junior race. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
“I wasn’t injured ... and passed him in the open section of the forest, before he crashed and the pressure. I was probably able to cruise after that but I didn’t know how close the riders were behind me so I charged hard to the finish.”
May was so far in front he was the only rider to finish five laps in less than the two-hour cut-off time. He completed a sixth lap, not knowing he was the only rider still out on the track at that time.
Eventual runner-up was Coatesville’s Sam Greenslade (Kawasaki KX250F), with Wellington’s Jake Whitaker (Husaberg TE300), Cambridge’s Ashton Grey (Yamaha YZ250X), Morrinsville’s Nathan Tesselaar (KTM350 XC-F) and Rotorua’s Cameron Vaughan (Yamaha WRF250) rounding out the top six.
Te Awamutu’s Daniel White (Kawasaki KX250F) won the earlier 90-minute junior race, the 14-year-old finishing two minutes ahead of fellow Te Awamutu rider Rachael Archer (Husqvarna TE125), with Cambridge’s Seton Head (KTM 250 EXC-F) completing the podium.
Auckland’s Nick Wightman (Husqvarna TE125), Huntly’s William Eyre (KTM 125 EXC) and Cambridge’s Beau Taylor (Husqvarna TE125) rounded out the top six juniors.
“I will be going senior next year, even though I don’t have to until I’m 17, just so that I can get some tougher competition,” said White.
The mini bike race was won by Taupo’s Will Yeoman (Kawasaki KX85), with Rotorua’s Daniel Bates (Suzuki RM85) second.