APRIL 19, 2022:

With three wins from three starts, Cambridge’s Jared Hannon proved himself unbeatable in the chase for junior honours in this year’s New Zealand’s Cross-country Championships.

With points from only three of the series’ four rounds to be counted towards the national title, Kawasaki ace Hannon now has nothing to fear at the fourth and final round in Central Hawke’s Bay next month.

The national title already belongs to Hannon after he completed an impressive 1-1-1 score-card with wins at rounds two and three in the Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay over the long Easter Weekend.

The 16-year-old set himself up nicely for the junior title win when he won the opening round of the series near Marton in late February, crossing the finish line just ahead of fellow Kawasaki star Tyler Brown, from Pukekawa.

As Brown turned 17 soon after, and was therefore no longer eligible to continue in the junior competition, he was unable to challenge Hannon at the rounds that followed seven weeks later – although there were still plenty of other extremely fast junior riders to keep Hannon honest.

But Hannon had the measure of them too, winning the 90-minute junior race at round two near Pahiatua/Masterton on Saturday and repeating the dose at round three near Dannevirke on Easter Monday.

Runner-up to Hannon on Saturday was Te Awamutu’s Nixon Parkes (KTM), with New Plymouth’s Josh Houghton (Husqvarna) claiming third place, while runner-up to Hannon on Monday was Parkes again, with New Plymouth’s Blake Lusk (Yamaha) finishing third on that occasion.

“I just loved the track here (at Dannevirke). It was right up my alley,” said Hannon afterwards.

“There were heaps of different lines to choose from, but the track was so slick in places. I was pretty consistent, choosing lines off the main race lines was the secret.”

This is Hannon’s first title win in the national cross-country championships, although he has previously won national mini motocross, Woodville Motocross Grand Prix titles and three New Zealand Mini TT Championship titles.

“Next year I will be a senior racer. I will certainly give it a good crack to try and win again.

“I want to thank Kawasaki New Zealand for helping to make this happen and I couldn’t have done it without my parents either.”

Meanwhile, Oparau’s James Scott (Honda) led virtually from start to finish to win the three-hour senior races on both days over Easter, on each occasion taking the chequered flag ahead of Napier’s Tommy Watts (Yamaha), with Taupo’s Wil Yeoman (Yamaha) finishing third both times.

Similarly to Hannon, Scott also wrapped up his senior title with a round to spare.

The fourth and final round is to be held in Central Hawke’s Bay on May 15.

Although the main titles are now decided, there are positions still to be finalised in the various engine capacity classes, so there is plenty to race for at the final round.


2022 NZ Cross-Country Champs

Round One – Sunday, February 27 – Bush Riders MCC, Marton

Round Two – Saturday, April 16 – Bush Riders MCC, Masterton/Pahiatua

Round Three – Monday, April 18 – Central Hawke’s Bay MCC, Dannevirke

Round Four – Sunday, May 15 – Central Hawke’s Bay MCC.

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan,


FEBRUARY 28, 2022:

The nation’s cross-country racing elite would probably have been green with envy when the chequered flag fell in the junior race at Marton at the weekend.

Kawasaki team-mates Jared Hannon and Tyler Brown were almost unstoppable in the junior grade at this first of four rounds in the 2022 New Zealand Cross-country Championships, held on steep Rangitikei farmland on Sunday.

The two motocross riders took their distinctive green MR Motorcycles Kawasaki bikes to finish 1-2 in the 90-minute gut-buster, separated by just 78 seconds at the end, with New Plymouth’s Josh Houghton (Husqvarna) finishing only 39 seconds further back to claim the third step on the podium.

“I don’t know what the winning secret was for me today,” said Cambridge teenager Hannon. “I just think it was a matter of twisting the throttle hard and that generally keeps you going straight. Of course, if it doesn’t, then you’re in a lot of trouble,” the 16-year-old laughed.

“I was just praying I had enough fuel to finish the last lap. It was my first cross-country race on a four-stroke bike and it was awesome. And an electric start makes all the difference too.

“I didn’t expect to win. I didn’t even know I was going to be doing this race until last week. Dad told me the race was on and I decided to give it a crack.”

And while 2021 national junior 250cc motocross champion Brown would have loved to win the race against his friend on Sunday, he said that accepting runner-up spot to team-mate Hannon was still immensely satisfying.

“This is the only event anyway that I am still eligible to race as a junior, so I could not really hope anyway to win that title this year. I turn 17 shortly and will switch across to the senior ranks.

“Today was really just practice for me,” said Brown, a pupil at Onewhero Area School.

Points from only the best three results from the four rounds will be counted towards the championship titles, with riders to discard their worst result, so Brown will still possibly be a contender in the chase for senior grade glory.

“I have not raced a cross-country event in a while, so I was pretty stoked to finish second today,” said Brown. “I knew Jared (Hannon) would be fast.”

Meanwhile, Oparau’s James Scott led virtually from start to finish to win the three-hour senior race later in the afternoon, taking the chequered flag just over a minute ahead of Wairoa’s Tommy Watt and two minutes ahead of third-placed rider Wil Yeoman, of Taupo.

The next two rounds follow closely together, with round two set for farmland near Pahiatua on Saturday, April 16, and round three near Dannevirke just two days later, on Easter Monday, April 18. The venue for the fourth and final round on May 14 is yet to be confirmed.


2022 NZ Cross-Country Champs

Round One – Sunday, February 27 – Bush Riders MCC, Marton

Round Two – Saturday, April 16 – Bush Riders MCC, Pahiatua

Round Three – Monday, April 18 – Central Hawke’s Bay MCC, Dannevirke

Round Four – Saturday, May 14 – Host club and venue to be decided.