'Tree huggers and show-ponies' face off at season opening MX Fest in Taupo
The motocross season kicks into life this weekend with a 'tree huggers v show ponies' element just to make things more interesting.
The annual Labour Weekend MX Fest at Digger McEwen Motorcycle Park, Taupo, has attracted the nation's major riders and race teams.
With 2016 model bikes to be tuned and set up for the upcoming nationals, muscles to be flexed, fresh team lineups and a long weekend in which to do it, the MX Fest heralds what could be another cracking season.
There'll be fresh and exciting match-ups at this Huka Honda-sponsored event, with Logan Blackburn (Te Puke), Scotty Canham (Rotorua), Hadleigh Knight (Reporoa) and Jayden Turnwald (Onewhere) all sporting different colours.
Former motocross grand prix star Josh Coppins (Motueka), Kayne Lamont (Mangakino) and brothers Cohen and Wyatt Chase of Taupo will no doubt place Yamaha in the spotlight.
Aaron Wiltshier (Tauranga) and Bjarne Frederiksen (Masterton) take care of Honda's high profile; Josiah Natzke (Hamilton) and Tony Cvitanovich (Feilding) always give the KTM brand plenty to crow about.
Kurtis Lilly (Karaka) will put Husqvarna in the picture while Sam Greenslade (Coatesville) is expected to again pilot his Kawasaki towards the podium and Suzuki's chances are in good hands with Brad Groombridge (Taupo).
Australian hero Dean Porter travels from Perth to race a Husqvarna in the MX1.
Now in its 30th year, the race programme features the mini riders -- the weekend incorporates the North Island Mini Motocross Championships; junior and women riders on Saturday.
Senior and veteran competitors are set to race on Sunday.
A new twist should appeal also to riders from a parallel motorcycling code, enduro.
A series of enduro-cross elimination races will pit the cream of motocross against the elite of enduro, with a 12-rider motocross v enduro final on Sunday afternoon.
"It is part of the Taupo Motorcycle Club's new initiative to make the venue more all-encompassing of the various disciplines," said club spokesman Bevan Weal.
"It will be good to see the tree-huggers (enduro riders) up against the show-ponies (motocross riders)," he laughed.
"This weekend is traditionally the first big hit-out for the major motocross teams, so it's going to be pretty full-on."
Some of the leading female riders this weekend include Sarah Elwin (Taihape), sisters Tyla, Roma and Skye Edwards (Nelson), Chloe Steel (Te Awamutu), Amy Corston (Opotiki), Emma Davis (Taupo) and Amber Harris (Cambridge).