Kiwi rider makes huge waves on world scene
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He had really intended only to dip his toes in the water, but Canterbury motorcycle ace Hamish Macdonald has instead made enormous waves all across Europe.
He’s rapidly shown he’s no minnow after all and it’s perhaps now more accurate to describe him as a big fish on the world scene.
The 19-year-old from Christchurch arrived in Europe at the start of the 2018 FIM Enduro GP World Championships season with the idea that he would simply “see where I was at with my enduro riding”.
A leading competitor in the national enduro scene, Macdonald had already proven himself an accomplished rider in New Zealand, but the step up to GP-level racing is a huge one, or so most would think.
“Spain was a big learning curve,” said Macdonald. “It wasn’t what I expected, certainly not like a normal enduro back home.”
At the double-header rounds one and two of the FIM Enduro GP World Championships in Spain in April, Macdonald put his 125cc Sherco bike near the front in the Youth Cup 125 Class, finishing runner-up in the GP event’s preliminaries, the prologue stage.
He then went on to finish the weekend third overall and his international enduro career was up and running.
Encouraged by his form, a decision was made that he push on with the world series and he prepared to tackle the double-header rounds three and four in Estonia in June.
He managed a podium finish on day two of the event (2nd) and finished that weekend fourth overall.
“Estonia was awesome. I struggled on the first day, with some mistakes, but I knew my speed was there and it showed on the second day.”
At round five in Italy, also in June, the Kiwi was forced to battle with injury after a crash and he settled for sixth overall, but at least he was able to remain in touch with the championship leaders.
Then came the double header rounds six and seven at Edolo in Italy just over a week ago and it was really time for the him to shine.
Macdonald won both days outright, his 1-1 score-card easily ensuring he would claim the No.1 step on the podium at that event, the first New Zealand rider to top the world enduro scene since Tauranga’s Stefan Merriman in 2008.
The slick and slippery conditions at Edolo played right into Macdonald’s hands.
The next two rounds (eight and nine) are set for Methamis, in France, on September 22-23, with the final race venue at Ruderdorf, in Germany, from October 12-14.
Macdonald is then expected to return to New Zealand.
He is currently second overall in the Youth Cup series standings, just six points behind Chile’s Ruy Barbosa, with the three worst scores of each rider still to be dropped in the final calculations.
So, by the middle of next month, the Kiwi hero could be world champion ... at his first attempt.