CAPTION: Wainuiomata's Jake Whitaker (KTM EXC300), the man of the moment at Sunday's second round of the Xtreme Off-road Championship series. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
SEPTEMBER 24, 2018: Bike riders were pushed to the brink in the Akatarawa Forest, halfway between Lower Hutt and Porirua, on Sunday, and it was local man Jake Whitaker who emerged on top.
Motorcycling New Zealand's latest competition initiative – the inaugural NZ Xtreme Off-road Championship series – hit the halfway stage on the Moonshine Valley course on Sunday, the competition again living up to its name and delivering more of the same stresses, strains and physical hardship that it had at round one near Whangamata last month.
The 27-year-old Whitaker, already a Kiwi legend in another motorcycling code – a record eight-time national moto trials champion – used some of those same precise throttle control and bike balancing skills needed for trials riding to conquer the brutal Moonshine enduro course.
Wainuiomata man Whitaker (KTM EXC300) finished the day more than two minutes ahead of runner-up rider Dylan Yearbury (Husqvarna FX350), from Cambridge.
"It was a pretty demanding course today, with only a few short stages where a rider could rest a bit," said Whitaker.
"It was an extremely physical day of riding, with hill climbs and creek crossings to keep everyone on their toes.
"The weather was great and the courser surprisingly dry, although there were a few spots in the forest that probably never really dry out, so we did strike a bit of mud too."
Hamilton's Phil Singleton (Husqvarna FE350) had won the day at the series opener at Whangamata, but he was forced to settle for third overall at Moonshine.
This was, however, enough for Singleton to keep his series lead as the riders now prepare for round three, in Hawke's Bay on November 3-4.
MNZ enduro commissioner Justin Stevenson had said before the start of the series that the racing would be "a little tougher than a normal national enduro, but not impossible" and this was true, with just a handful of riders unable to complete the nine-lap race.
"It was supposed to be a brutal event. We don't want to scare people off, but it was meant to be tough," he said.
"In saying that, though, there is quite a big step up from the Bronze Grade course to what the Gold Grade riders faced and individuals could choose for themselves how much of a challenge they wanted."
The top three finishers in the Silver Grade were Lower Hutt's Ryan Scullion, followed by Cambridge's Beau Taylor Racing and Whangarei's Wayne Cox.
Best of the Bronze Grade riders was Whitianga's James Kerr, with Tauranga's Matt Reece and Whitecliffs' Cody Corson not too far behind.
The series continues now with round three in Hawke's Bay and then round four at Oxford, near Christchurch.
Only two of the four rounds of the NZ Xtreme Off-road Championship are to be counted, with riders to discard their two worst scores, while double points are offered for the final round in the South Island.
The 2018 NZ Xtreme Off-Road Championship calendar:
Round one: August 25, Taungatara Forest, Whangamata. Round two: September 23, Moonshine Extreme, Bulls Run Rd, Porirua. Round three: November 3-4, Over The Top, Hawke's Bay. Round four: November 16-17, Nut Buster, Oxford, Christchurch.
Happy to take the checkered flag on my TSS Red Baron KTM at round two of the NZ Extreme Enduro Series! My Mitas tyres hooked up off the start line, I grabbed the holeshot and managed to stay out in front for the remainder of the race. It was my first outing on the 300 TPI and I absolutely loved it! Thanks to Wife Whitaker, Maxton and Andy for the help in the pits and to all my sponsors for their continued support! 🤙🏻 #tssredbaron #ktmoffroadracingteam #mitasnz #ktmnz #workshopgraphics #alpinestars #ride100percent #interislander #bellhelmets #crownkiwienterprises TSS Red Baron MotorcyclesKTM Off Road Racing Team New ZealandMitas Tyres New ZealandInterislanderCrown Kiwi Enterprises... See MoreSee Less
3rd today at the Central Enduro. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow!🤘🏻#mitasnz #crownkiwienterprises #alpinestars #ride100percent #bellhelmets #interislander #tssredbaron #ktmoffroadracingteam #workshopgraphics ... See MoreSee Less
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Please help us to collect some information AND you will have the opportunity to go in the draw to WIN a day in the dirt with Natasha Cairns - current New Zealand Intermediate Enduro Champion and multi-time New Zealand Womens Enduro Champion! Hang out with Tarsh for the day at a local trail ride (ride will be based in the upper North Island) and learn some new tips and tricks from one of New Zealand's best! Simply fill in the survey and comment on this post with DONE and you are in the draw! Easy peasy!
Yamaha YZ65 & YZ85LW, vintage motocross, Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe, first time ever dirt rider, quick tour of the Pyrenees, Triumph Tiger 1200 & 800 launch, NZ Vets & Womens MX Champs, NZ XC Champs, Hamish Macdonald storms Europe, Flat-track in the South Island and more...
Back in the open face helmet days and the tight fitting pants! 4 years ago... how time flys
Jake Thanks to the boys at Hynds Petone, for coming out and re arranging my practise area and bringing along a couple more tonne of damaged concrete! Got out for a play this arvo before the rain set in #Hynds #GasGasnz #NTBracing #Interslander #Spectro ... See MoreSee Less
Good days training in the Mungatuks today running in my new TSS Red Baron 2019 KTM TPI 300. Loving my set up ahead of next weekends racing down here in Wellington. #tssredbaron #ktmoffroadracingteam #bell #mitas #ride100percent #alpinestars #workshopgraphics #interislander ... See MoreSee Less