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Whitaker-0001-wCAPTION: Wainuiomata's Jake Whitaker (KTM EXC300TPI), winner of the Nutbuster Hard Enduro on Saturday. Photo by Andy McGechan,

NOVEMBER 19, 2018: Wainuiomata's Jake Whitaker won the battle, but Cambridge's Dylan Yearbury won the war.

Whitaker took his KTM EXC 300 TPI to win the annual Mike Pero Real Estate-sponsored Nutbuster Hard Enduro near Christchurch at the weekend – this two-day, double-points event also recognised as the fourth and final round of the Alpinestars-sponsored NZ Xtreme Off-road Championship series – but it was Yearbury (Husqvarna TE300) who claimed the main prize.

Finishing third overall at the weekend was easily enough for Yearbury to wrap up the series in the premier Gold Class, with his main title rival and the early series leader Phil Singleton, of Hamilton, opting not to make the trip to the South Island at the weekend.

However, even though Singleton was a no-show, Whitaker and Yearbury both had their work cut out, with home-town hero Hamish Macdonald, who had just arrived back home after a successful season of enduro racing in Europe, ringing alarm bells by dominating the preliminary enduro-cross prologue within the Christchurch A&P Show on Friday.

Results here set the start order for the enduro the following day, with riders set off at 10-second intervals, Macdonald first away, followed by Whitaker and Yearbury.

After four-and-a-half-hours of cut-and-thrust racing and the lead two positions were reversed but, remarkably, there were less than seven seconds between race winner Whitaker and runner-up Macdonald at the chequered flag.

Yearbury crossed the finish line third on Saturday, seven minutes behind Macdonald, the 23-year-old diesel mechanic naturally satisfied to take the series win.

"I had a couple of small crashes on Saturday, just slow tip-offs in a creek bed. I was able to quickly stand up and carry on, but it did cost me some time," Yearbury explained.

Cambridge's Beau Taylor won the Silver Class at the weekend and for the series, while Whitianga's James Kerr topped the series' Bronze Class standings.

The leading veterans riders for the series were New Plymouth's Tony Parker (Gold Class), Auckland's David Steen (Silver Class) and Judgeford's Justin Stevenson (Bronze Class).

Only three of the four rounds of the NZ Xtreme Off-road Championship were counted, with riders discarding their one worst score from the three North Island rounds – held in Whangamata, Porirua and Napier – while double points were offered for the final round in the South Island.

The competition took on new life this year with Motorcycling New Zealand (MNZ) sanctioning the series and recognising it as a national championship, but there was never any doubt anyway that this event would anyway attract all the sport's top talent and MNZ enduro commissioner Justin Stevenson is now already making plans for the series to roll on next season.

"The Nutbuster was a fantastic event and the amount of effort put in by the organisers was phenomenal," said Stevenson.

"I think we will definitely run this series again next year, with the Nutbuster again as the final round. I'm pretty sure all the clubs will be keen to host again.

"It would be great to market this event overseas a little more, to attract more international riders. I know all the riders who competed this year enjoy it immensely."

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan,


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