PWR Yamaha’s Watts collects third at Yamaha NZ Enduro Champs’ opening round
Yamaha Motor New Zealand Media Statement
The four-round 2023 Yamaha New Zealand Enduro Championship is ensuring the competing riders are getting the utmost out of each race weekend.
In this season’s Yamaha-sponsored series, the first two South Island rounds will also be run as rounds one and two respectively of the parallel-but-separate South Island Enduro Championships.
The two North Island rounds, held over consecutive June weekends in Wellington and then Martinborough, will also have dual recognition as rounds one and two of the North Island Enduro Championships.
Beginning last weekend in Omihi, North Canterbury, the enduro series heads further up the South Island to near Nelson this coming Saturday and Sunday.
Yamaha’s PWR (Paul Whibley Racing) team is represented solely by talented Tauranga-based Wairoa native Tommy Watts, who was the 2021 national cross country champion. Now working for Yamaha ambassador and ex-international motocross and supercross legend Ben Townley, Watts has his dream job and his sights set on a New Zealand enduro title.
He started off steadily at the opening round, which was held on mostly open farmland, to finish third overall on his 2023 Yamaha YZ250F.
Watts says he got the measure of his rivals over the two-days of racing and knows he will have to go harder if he wants to come out on top.
“I had a couple of good tests here in there, but the weekend was a little bit up and down for me. I was riding too much within my comfort zone and let too much time go to the other riders.”
He has modified his Yamaha motorcycle by using an 18-inch rear wheel, instead of the 19-inch option.
“I really enjoy that bike for enduros because I find the gearing more suitable for me compared to the YZ250FX. It’s a great bike,” Watts says.
His aim is to keep notching up top results across the following three enduro rounds “and stay in the fight for the championship the whole way through to potentially winning the class,” he says.
This weekend’s event will be held on challenging forestry terrain, with the venue signposted from the Moutere Highway, west of Appleby and Richmond.
The format will be the same as the opening round, where Saturday features a sprint format, with day two on Sunday hosting the traditional timecard enduro race.
Watts will be chasing down Ethan McBreen who leads the overall standings after round one and runner-up Brad Groombridge.
Yamaha Motor New Zealand’s Motorsport Manager Josh Coppins congratulated Watts on a solid first hit-out.
“Tommy did well for us. He’s hoping to improve in the remaining rounds but had a good consistent start to the series,” he says.
Coppins was also pleased to see Yamaha’s goal to assist its riders into overseas opportunities coming to fruition for two of the 2022 PWR Yamaha riders.
“Our Wanganui-based rider Seth Reardon recently moved to Australia for a work opportunity and he will be doing some racing under AJ Roberts who runs the Yamaha Australia off-road team. He will be helping Seth progress and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can achieve over there.”
“The team’s youngster Wil Yeoman left last night to go race in the Swedish enduros. This opportunity came off the back of the International Six-Days Endurance (ISDE) in France last year where he represented New Zealand and struck up a relationship with the Yamaha Europe team which is based in Sweden. He’s been training hard for that and I‘m excited to see what he can do at an international level. It’s really positive to see the Yamaha pathway come to fruition, especially in the off-road scene.”
PWR Team Manager Paul Whibley has also expanded his responsibilities and has taken on the role of Cross Country Commissioner for Motorcycling New Zealand.
Coppins believes this is an important step due to the wealth of knowledge Whibley possesses.
“Paul knows more than a lot of people realise about international racing and the direction the rest of the world is going. He can help facilitate that pathway for our Kiwi riders. It’s great for him to get that opportunity and see what he can do to help boost our series,” Coppins says.
PHOTOS CREDIT: MCBREEN PHOTOGRAPHY
2023 NZ ENDURO CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS:
1st Ethan McBreen
2nd Brad Groombridge
3rd Tommy Watts (YZ250FX) – 1st in class, AA - E1 0-200 2Str, 0-300 4Str
2023 NEW ZEALAND ENDURO CHAMPIONSHIP CALENDER:
- Round 1: May 6-7 - Omihi, North Canterbury
- Round 2: May 13-14 - Pigeon Valley Road, south of Nelson
- Round 3: June 4-5 - Moonshine Valley Road, near Porirua, Wellington
- Round 4: June 10-11 - Martinborough
PWR YAMAHA TEAM WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE FOLLOWING SPONSORS:
Yamaha Motor New Zealand, Yamalube, GYTR, YMF, YMI, Motomuck, un4seen, MotoSR, Oneal, Arai, Oakley, IMS, Zeta, Tire balls, TCX, Michelin, Renthal, Twin Air, USWE, EK Chain & Brownell Earthmoving.