PWR Yamaha team secures three class wins at national cross country opener
Yamaha Motor New Zealand Race Report
The PWR Yamaha team had a strong start to the four-round 2022 New Zealand Cross Country Championship with Tommy Watts (featured Image) , Wil Yeoman and satellite rider Charlotte Russ winning their classes yesterday.
Napier-based, former Wairoa rider Watts has a target on his back as the defending champion and although he gave it everything he had on his YZ250FX, he couldn’t catch overall winner James Scott by the three-hour race’s end. The two frontrunners just increased their pace every 30-minute lap at Holly Farm near Marton, with Scott holding onto a gap through the farmland track, which was punctuated by pine forest and bush-filled gullies.
Watts says his first official race under the PWR Yamaha team umbrella was “full on.”
“I didn’t get the best of starts, which made it pretty tough on that first lap. I got taken down twice by riders trying to get to the front as well and I made a few silly little mistakes. I’d picked through the pack by the end of the first lap and was sitting in around third. I kept going and pushing hard and by the end of the third lap I was in second behind James.”
Watts saw his main rival exit the pits as he entered them and after a quick stop he was back on the hunt.
“I knew we were fairly close, so I was out of there. I couldn’t manage to chase James down though and he pulled 20 seconds on me every lap which I was pretty gutted about,” he says.
However, Watts enjoyed his debut ride on his new Yamaha 250FX, which took him to the 4 Stroke Under class win and second overall for the Bush Riders Motorcycle Club-hosted event. He vowed to work on his starts with PWR Yamaha Team Manager Paul Whibley before the next round in April.
Whibley is taking a year off from racing to help out with the cross country series’ organisation. He was impressed with his team’s youngest rider, 16-year-old Wil Yeoman, who stepped up to his first senior three-hour race yesterday, after collecting the 2021 national junior cross country title.
Taupo’s Yeoman (photo below) had a hard-charging start, climbing up to second place after lap one.
“I tried to keep James Scott in sight for as long as I could, then my team mate Tommy passed me on the next lap. So, I aimed to keep it smooth and hang on for the remainder of the three-hour race,” Yeoman says.
He wound up an impressive third overall and won the 2 Stroke Over class on his Yamaha YZ250FX.
“Huge thanks to Bush Riders and Cam Smith for making the event happen. It was a real cross country track with lots of variety. Also thank you to all my sponsors - it’s great to finally get the riding season underway,” Yeoman says.
Whibley believes it was a “smart move” for Yeoman to move up from the junior category.
“He’s more than capable of riding with the seniors as he proved yesterday,” he says.
The third PWR Yamaha rider Seth Reardon had a rough tumble at the beginning of his 2022 campaign, after a positive start saw him make his way to the front of the pack.
“I was feeling good, then just after the halfway mark, I hit a hole in the long grass which sent me down a bank and injured my knees, so I couldn't carry on,” Reardon says.
Fortunately, the damage wasn’t serious and he promises to come back swinging in six weeks. “I'm not broken, so I will be ready for the next one in April,” Reardon says.
Whibley was pleased with how his team and the satellite Yamaha riders performed yesterday and congratulated Yeoman and Watts for their class victories - adding that it won’t be long before Watts is winning races.
“Ethan Harris dislocated a finger during the week and was struggling with a hand injury. It was a tough track but he rode well with a sore hand to finish fourth in the 4 Stroke Over class. Charlotte Russ did really well to win the women’s class.”
Whibley thanked the team’s sponsors for their support and was grateful that the racing was able to get underway this season, in contrast to other national motorcycle series, which have been cancelled due to COVID-19.
Motorcycling New Zealand (MNZ) cross-country commissioner Chris Smyth hopes that the cross country championship can run unimpeded in 2022, unlike in 2020 where only one round went ahead before the pandemic forced the cancellation of the remaining competition.
Round two is set for land near Pahiatua on Saturday, April 16. Round three will run in Central Hawke's Bay just two days later, on Easter Monday, April 18. A venue is still to be decided for the fourth and final round on Saturday, May 14.
Riders will be able to discard their worst result over the four rounds with just their three best efforts counting towards the championship standings.
PHOTO CREDITS: CHARLOTTE GALPIN PHOTOGRAPHY
NZ CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND ONE RESULTS:
1st James Scott
2nd Tommy Watts (YZ250FX) – 1st in class, 4 Stroke Under
3rd Wil Yeoman (YZ250FX) – 1st in class, 2 Stroke Over
6th Luke Brown (YZ250FX) – 2nd in class, 4 Stroke Under
7th Richard Sutton (YZ250) – 2nd in class, 2 Stroke Over
8th Ethan Harris (YZ450FX) – 4th in class, 4 Stroke Over
39th Charlotte Russ (YZ125) – 1st in class, Women’s
52nd Seth Reardon (YZ450FX) – 10th in class, 4 Stroke Over
2022 NEW ZEALAND CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIP CALENDER:
- Round 1 – Sunday, 27th February 2022 – Hosted by Bush Riders Motorcycle Club
- Round 2 – Saturday, 16th April 2022 – Hosted by Bush Riders Motorcycle Club
- Round 3 – Monday 18th April 2022 – Hosted by Central Hawkes Bay Motorcycle Club
- Round 4 – Saturday 14th May 2022 – Club and venue TBC
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.