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Top talent to tackle tough trials at NZ Moto Trials Champs

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ

It may again take world-class skills to claim the various trophies at this year's edition of the New Zealand Moto Trials Championships near Wellington over Labour Weekend (October 21-23).

Visiting international star Jack Sheppard scampered away with the main trophy when the annual event was held in the South Island last year, but many of the leading Kiwis have stepped up to another level over the past 12 months and it could be a very different story at the three-day event on the Kapiti coast from Saturday to Monday.

Record eight-time national champion Jake Whitaker, from Wainuiomata, was unable to compete at the Blenheim event last year because of injury and he'll skip the nationals again this year as he now tackles a different motorcycling code, but there's still talent aplenty among the likely entrants.

Wellington's Dylan Ball and Hunterville's Hannah Rushworth both tasted national championship success in Australia in September and they'll be hard to beat in their respective classes at the Kiwi nationals.

Ball (now a teenager, he's just turned 13) won titles in two separate categories at the nationals last year - he topped the intermediate grade, finishing ahead of Ashhurst's Kevin Pinfold, and he was also No.1 in the junior grade as well, finishing ahead of Mapua's Dylan Cox - but this year he steps up to contest the A Grade and could be in for a fascinating battle there with another young star of the sport, Dunedin's Blake Fox.

Runner-up to Sheppard in the premier class last year was Nelson's Peter Oliver, with visiting French rider Jules Huguenin third, while Oliver's elder brother Nick Oliver and Blenheim's multi-time South Island champion Jason Baker rounded out the top five in the Expert Grade.

The Oliver siblings and Baker are again expected to be among the leaders in the Expert Grade this time around.

Wellington's Stuart Lawton, Kaikoura's David Trewin and Wellington’s Carl Robson topped the A Grade last year.

Sharp rocks, slippery tree roots, treacherous creek beds and steep hills ... these are mere judder bars on the path for these bike riders.

The prime aim is to conquer the extreme terrain without touching feet on the ground or falling off. Points are lost for these "faults" and a rider with the lowest score wins.

A highlight of the nationals this year could be seeing some of the junior riders, on electric bikes, doing a demonstration.

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