When Scott Keegan raced away with the national ATV crown last week, not even his defeated rival, his elder brother and former champion Camo Keegan, could deny he was worthy of the prize.
The racing conditions at the 2015 New Zealand ATV Motocross Championships in Taranaki delivered two tough and contrasting extremes of terrain and the hometown favourites and brothers dominated throughout.
Camo Keegan leads his brother Scott, but eventually lost the race to his sibling. Pictures /Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
Wet weather was forecast for Sunday, the second of two days of racing, so event organisers decided to power through as many of the planned seven races for each class while the sun shone on Saturday.
Good idea, but it did create a problem of billowing dust clouding much of Saturday's action. However, four races were completed by late on Saturday afternoon, setting up the championships for several thrilling showdowns on a muddy quagmire the following day.
When 26-year-old Camo and 24-year-old Scott shared race wins in the premier senior A class on Saturday, nothing separated them at the start of Sunday’s action.
Then, conditions deteriorating as rain fell, organisers decided on Sunday morning to run just one more race for each class.
This meant it was a winner-takes-all final race for each class, including the race for the glamour premier senior A grade title.
Camo snatched the lead at the start and, despite being blinded by the rooster tail of mud flying back at him, Scott kept up the attack.
After a rare mistake by Scott, Camo stretched away at the front, until he too spun out in the mud, allowing Scott to close in. With less than half a lap remaining, Camo was baulked by a lapped rider and he lost his drive in the mud, dramatically allowing Scott to snatch the lead, take the race win and the title.
“I was pretty gutted about how it all finished because lapped riders are meant to pull to one side and let the leaders pass. But that's racing,” said Stratford mechanic Camo, who was national ATV champion in 2013 and favourite to win again this season after finishing runner-up to Ian Ffitch (Canterbury) last season.
“I suppose, if I couldn't win it, the title couldn't have gone to a better person than my own brother,” he shrugged.
Scott, a Lepperton bricklayer, was thrilled with the outcome.
“I was behind Camo for most of that final race and my helmet was getting very heavy, with something like 20kg of mud stuck to it,” he laughed. “It was a pretty crazy final day actually. My engine failed and Ffitch loaned me his back-up engine and he also loaned me some new mud tyres too. How about that, the defending champion helping me to take away his title?”
Third overall in the premier class was 21-year-old Tauranga rider Mark Goldstone.
Ffitch experienced a weekend from hell as he suffered a succession of mechanical problems and ended up a uncharacteristic eighth overall.
Meanwhile, Kaiwaka 17-year-old Cullen Curtis dominated the 450cc production class on Saturday, scoring four wins, and all it needed was a conservative approach in the treacherous slop in Sunday's solitary 450cc class race for Curtis to take the crown.
He settled for a runner-up finish in that race, comfortably enough to earn him the title.
He finished the championship 23 points ahead of Sam George, and Cory Whitelock was third.
Other class winners were: Greg Graham (veterans); Abby Holliday (women); Taylor Graham (junior A); Max Lecompte (junior B); Kalese Lecompte (ATV minis); Sean Burborough (clubmans support); Nathan Hunt (clubmans trail riders junior support).