YAMAHAâS REARDON CLAIMS A DOUBLE PODIUM IN NZ ENDURO OPENER
There was no easing into the 2020 Yamaha NZ Enduro Championship, although PWR Yamaha team rider Seth Reardon rose to the tough double-header opening rounds’ nearly 300km challenge, finishing on the podium both days.
Racing in Masterton on Saturday and Martinborough on Sunday, the Whanganui rider was third on the first day and then claimed a remarkable win amongst a star-studded entry list the next day.
“I was so stoked to win the second day outright and make it to the finish without any time penalties. My Yamaha YZ250FX was on form all weekend with no mechanical problems at all,” Reardon says.
Team Manager Paul Whibley described Reardon’s victory as “very cool, especially given Hamish MacDonald was competing, who is the current 125cc Youth Enduro World Champion.”
The 2015 national cross-country champion and successful international cross country title holder Whibley, who is racing back in New Zealand for the first time in several seasons, says the first section was a surprise to many riders.
“It had some really tight and technical terrain in pine trees with logs, rocky creeks, steep climbs and descents with lots of roots thrown in for good measure. The second loop for the day was mostly fast farmland, which was pretty slick from overnight rain.”
Taikorea-based Whibley says he struggled on the first lap and took too long to warm up on his Yamaha YZ450FX and settle in.
“I was posting times that were a little off the pace. The second time through the terrain tests my times were much improved but the damage was done, and I had to settle for second in class.
Reardon had a battle on his hands with MacDonald and former champion Dylan Yearbury both in his stacked class. He demonstrated his skill-set and took the race to them on his Yamaha YZ250FX.
“The track all up was 120km long which took four hours to complete. There was some pretty tough racing through tight forestry, long rocky creeks and some fast, slippery farmland. I rode a solid race all day, tried my best to put in some fast times and managed to get third overall and first in class. I’m really happy with my result and want to say well done to Dylan and Hamish for P1 and P2,” Reardon says.
PWR Yamaha’s youngest rider Wil Yeoman, who has recently turned 15, stepped up into the Senior class for the first time on his Yamaha YZ125 and tackled the event’s first day in the AA Expert grade head on. He placed an impressive fourth overall the first time through the first terrain test amongst the class’ international and national champions and went on to claim fifth in class for round one.
"Saturday was awesome - the track was so gnarly and technical, but I was able to get around without losing any time,” Yeoman says.
Round two of the national series then moved south to Martinborough on Sunday. Whibley described the venue as “fast, open farmland” and the ground was “hard with grease laid over-top.”
He struggled to get into the swing of things on the first lap and his times reflected that in the first two tests.
“But a couple minor tweaks to my setup allowed me to find some more traction and comfort and my speed picked up with some good times the second lap. I placed second in class again for the day,” Whibley says.
“Seth was on fire - winning all but the third terrain test and easily winning the day,” he adds.
“The Martinborough track was 170km long and really fast paced. It was mainly slippery farmland with some creek crossings and some gnarly tight bush sections. I had to push all day to beat the clock! Huge thanks to all my sponsors – I wouldn't be here without their help,” Reardon says.
Yeoman had another strong start to the day, but the fast trail pace and physically demanding track took its toll and late in the energy-taxing day, he lost some time.
“Big thanks to the landowners and the Bush Riders and Kapi-Mana Clubs for putting on two great events. This weekend was a good learning experience, being among top riders and watching their technique through challenging terrain was invaluable. I am looking forward to testing my skills in the sand at the next double-header at Santoft in the Manawatu,” he says.
“Although it was a huge learning curve for the young racer with plenty of lessons learned, Wil came home with a credible seventh place on day two,” Whibley says.
Ashton Grey was side-lined with a serious foot injury the week before the event. He was undertaking marshal duties at an event when he caught his foot on a stump and a piece of wood penetrated his foot. The wound became infected and required surgeries and a skin graft. He is unsure how long his recovery period will be.
Yamaha Motor New Zealand’s Motorsport Manager Josh Coppins was pleased to see one of the teams he oversees back on their Yamahas, in what was the first official motorbike racing series to take place post-Covid-19.
“Yamaha is sponsoring the NZ Enduro Series as this is an especially important market for our brand. It was great to see we had good representation in all classes,” he says. “I was really happy with the PWR Yamaha team’s results and I’m hoping to make it to the final round next month to support them. Hopefully, the boys can add to our 2020 Yamaha championship tally where we have bought home the national road racing Superbike and 150 Supersport titles, plus the MX1 and MX2 motocross trophies,” Coppins concludes.