Junior Racers Impress At Sandy Himatangi Track

Published: Mon 22 Apr 2024 05:25 PM
The cream of New Zealand’s junior motocross talent was on show in the Manawatu/Horowhenua region at the weekend and what a show they all produced.
While parts of the country were receiving yet another dousing of rain, the Flipps Motocross Park at Himatangi soaked up brilliant weather over the three days of the 2024 AFC Motorcycles-sponsored New Zealand Motocross Championships, warm but overcast on Friday and Saturday, and bathed in 22-degree sunshine on the final day on Sunday.
This allowed the elite of the nation’s young motocross talent to turn it on, with racing throughout the grades close and exciting and titles often not decided until the final race in each case.
Foxton’s Phoenix Van Dusschoten won the premier 14-16 years’ 250cc class title, edging out Australian visitor Kayden Strode, with Karaka’s Hayden Draper rounding out the final podium.
It was, remarkably, Van Dusschoten’s first national title, the just-turned 16-year-old having been ‘knocking on the door’ over the past couple of seasons.
Meanwhile, several riders braved the roughening track conditions to double-class at the event, Tauranga’s Levi Townley and Cambridge’s Nico Verhoeven seemingly unphased by the ardour of tackling twice as many races as most of their rivals, and they each still dominated and claimed two national titles apiece.
Townley impressed as he won both the 12-14 years’ 125cc class and the 13-16 years’ 85cc class as well, while Verhoeven was equally steadfast in winning both the 8-10 years’ 85cc class and the 8-11 years’ 65cc class.
The closest racing of all was in the packed 40-rider 11-12 years’ 85cc class where any of three riders were in the running to snatch away the title at the start of the fifth and final race of the weekend.
Tauranga’s Jaggar Townley, Taupo’s Connor Feather and Hastings rider Harry Daley were each within grasp of taking the title but, in the end, Jaggar Townley took it by a solitary point from Feather, with Daley settling for third overall, finishing just two more points further back.Foxton’s Phoenix Van Dusschoten (Honda No.722) gets the jump on the rest of the 14-16 years’ 250cc class riders at the start of this race at the 2024 New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships this season. Photo by Andy McGechan,
Other class winners at the weekend were Silverdale-based former Invercargill rider Seth Morrow (15-16 years’ 125cc class); Raetihi’s Karaitiana Horne (12-16 years’ girls’ 125/250 class); Whangarei’s Hannah Perris (12-16 years girls’ 85cc class) and Dargaville’s Kody McDermott (8-11 years girls’ 85cc class).
Host Manawatu Orion Motorcycle Club president Brad Ritchie said: “It has been an awesome occasion. This club hosted the junior motocross championships back in 1982 and we also hosted in 2019, so to host again in 2024 is another great honour for the club.
“This is the most talent-laden paddock I think I’ve ever seen at the junior championships. The depth was remarkable and many future senior champions will emerge from this.”
Motorcycling New Zealand motocross co-commissioner Stu McCulloch, working alongside fellow commissioner Sonia Cloke, said the event showed that the sport at grassroots level was “in an extraordinarily healthy state” in New Zealand.
“We must thank the club for their amazing efforts over the weekend. The track was pretty gnarly, but that’s motocross,” said McCulloch.
“Thanks also to those individuals who filled out our feedback sheet today, because that’s what guides us to make improvements and progress the sport even further.”
Coming up, in the Taranaki region in October, will be the New Zealand Mini Motocross Championships for the even younger competitors.
Credit: Andy McGechan,

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