The 2009 Oceania Trials Championship, held in conjunction with the first two rounds of the South Island Trials Champs, was a special event in Nelson this year with the introduction of a special guest rider from Japan to compete against the teams from Australia and New Zealand.
Through their association with the Japanese Idemitsu Ihatove Trial, Stephen Oliver, founder of local NonStop Adventure, invited Takumi Narita, the Motorcycle Federation of Japan trials coach and ex World podium finisher to be guest rider and coach at this year’s Oceania Champs. NonStop is keen to see the introduction of a Japanese team in future Oceania events and upon his return to Japan Takumi will be meeting with the FIM (Federation of International Motorcycling) to share his observations and experience at the event along with the results achieved over the weekend.
As well as this Takumi’s visit heralded the introduction of a new event for 2010, the Tasman Ihatove trial, which will be based on the very successful Idemitsu Ihatove trial now in its 33rd year in Japan.
Both the Oceania and Tasman Ihatove events, along with the NonStop Adventure motorcycle training Academy, have the blessing of the Tasman Mayor, Richard Kempthorne, Motorcycle NZ CEO, Paul Pavletich, the Nelson Motorcycle Club (which celebrated 100? Years in NZ in 2008) and the local farm owner Ian Parkes and family, along with Robert Eggers and Goldpine, who are one of the major sponsors of the NonStop Adventure trials park in Wakefield.
Trials motorcycling is a challenging, fun, family oriented sport which teaches great riding skills that can be applied in all disciplines of motorcycling as testified to by great NZ Motocross and Enduro riders -Josh Coppin and Stefan Merriman.
Nelson lived up to its reputation with great weather for the two days of competition along with a one-day coaching special held after the event.
A large field of riders from throughout New Zealand impressed the many spectators who visited the local trials park on both Saturday and Sunday and those watching were impressed not only by the great riding style and friendly nature of Takumi Narita but also the skills of Wellington rider Jake Whitaker, who last year achieved 10th placing in the World Youth Championship; Warren Laugesen, 7 times New Zealand Champion; Jason Baker, 10 times South Island Champion, along with well-known local riders Stephen, Nick & Peter Oliver and the Australian team of Alex Coleman, Sam Rummery and Simon van Baalen.
Although riding on unfamiliar terrain on borrowed bikes the Australian riders enjoyed being part of the competition and NonStop coaching.
The experience of the New Zealand team gave NonStop riders Jake Whitaker (Expert), Stephen Oliver (Masters) & Peter Oliver (Youth) a convincing edge on both days to take out the Oceania Championship title for 2009.
In the first two rounds of the South Island Champs the highly skilled Expert Class saw a hard fought battle for top three places. Jake Whitaker, who is riding at international level, easily took out both days ahead of the other Expert riders. Surprise second place on day 1 went to local Nick Oliver, but the experience of Warren Laugesen saw him dig deep and take a narrow lead over Nick of only two points after the two days of riding to take out second place. Two other local riders – Karl Clark (Motueka) and Jason Baker (Blenheim) took out 4th & 5th.
Again in A-grade a battle ensued between guest rider Takumi Narita, riding a Scorpa 125; Chris Birch, a multi NZ Enduro Champion and top international star; veteran trials and enduro NZ Champ Stephen Oliver and his up-and-coming son Peter Oliver.
Takumi lead the overall field but top three in the South Island Champs changed between Chris, Peter & Stephen on each of the two days with a final close result of Peter, Stephen and then Chris after the combined score was totalled. Chris took the lead on the first day with an outstanding ride on the flowing, hill-climb sections well suited to his enduro riding experience, but after bad arm cramp on Day 1 Stephen pulled out some top rides to pull ahead of Chris only to have Peter score a lap of just 2 points on Day 2 to beat his father by 4 points.
In the highly contested Intermediate grade young NonStop riders Blake Fox and Calum Anderson had good results mid field but first place was taken by Sam Reid with second and third place hotly contested between Warwick Merriman and Glen Smith. After a count back and double-check of the score cards it was in fact Warwick Merriman that took out second ahead of Glen on the number of cleans.
A large Presidents field was also hotly contested with long time riders Brendon Wadsworth, John Lawton and Steve Wade taking out top three places.
NonStop riders also took 2 of the 3 places in the Clubman grade with Paul Simmonds a clear winner ahead of Daniel Penney and Francis Sydenham.
Junior riders Ryan Dunn, Liam Draper (12) and Brady Inwood had great rides to complete both days of competition and will be the ones to watch in the future.
A social grade also gave Dick Gardener and Dave Atwool the chance to try their skills within the sections that allowed all levels and age of rider the chance to compete and safely enjoy a challenging, fun ride. Trials is one of the few sports that can see father and son, father and daughter riders and it is possible to have young riders of less than thirteen up against riders as old as eighty.
On Easter Monday a large group of riders, including the Australian team, took advantage of the one-day coaching session offered by NonStop Adventure with their guest coach Takumi Narita sharing from his vast experience with the assistance of NonStop’s great friend, highly talented Japanese translator and fellow trials rider, Dave Atwool of Blenheim. He did a wonderful job of conveying Takumi’s advice to all the riders who could then put into practice what they were being taught.
Many riders tackled new levels of obstacles and extended their comfort zones to go home feeling greatly encouraged by their experience and ready to apply their new found skills at the next trials event. All of them appreciated the efforts of Stephen and the NonStop team in securing Takumi for this truly inspiring session.
Of course, none of this could have been possible without the great support of Ian Parkes and family who make their property available for such a positive event for the families that attend trials competition and coaching. They were pleased to see so many spectators come out to the two days of competition and enjoy the friendly family atmosphere.
Many thanks to the great team of NonStop Adventure, Nelson Trials Group and the Nelson Motorcycle Club, for their combined efforts in making this event so successful.
For photos and results see www.nonstopadventure.co.nz