Popular motocross competition revs-up in Manawahē

By Moana Makapelu Lee
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

They may not hold a Driver’s Licence yet but it didn’t stop junior motocross riders from tearing up the tracks at the SummerCross event, one of the country's oldest and most popular FMX competitions. For one Māori rider looking to make her mark, it's a stepping stone for bigger things. 

Junior riders kicked off day one of the thrilling Open motocross events where over 450 riders across the age-grades will compete over two days for the top titles.

One of the event’s organisers Mitchell Rees says, "SummerCross is the biggest racing event on the calendar for motocross. It's the 46th year that we've been running the motocross so it's exciting times."

Fifteen-year-old Shelby Catley of Ngāti Porou is one of this year's top contenders in the junior division. This year the Katikati College student took out the junior women’s title at the Nationals in Taranaki. Tomorrow she'll be trying her luck against more experienced riders in the senior women’s ride.

"I just love being on the bike and the adrenaline it gives you. At the nationals, I didn't expect to win because the girls in the race had done-up bikes and brand new bikes, I just had my old bike. They have full sponsorship. I don't have any sponsors and it was really unexpected to win."

It's a passion and a lifestyle for the teen who spends most weekends with her family traveling to competitions. For her, the competition is a proving ground for bigger things. 

Catley says, "I want to be able to go over to Europe or Aussie to race at the Worlds. To race at the Worlds would be cool."

SummerCross hosts the largest number of motocross riders in the country, including female riders. The competition has seen some of New Zealand's best come through including Women’s Motocross World Champion from Otago, Courtney Duncan. Organisers hope it will continue to be a major drawcard for the best talent in years to come.

Rees says, "It's the end of the year but it's the start of the season for the big events so it's a good lead-in. Everyone knows where they're at race-wise, so you can figure out who's on the pace and who is looking to win."

The competition ends on Saturday with the senior rider's divisions.