BOP rider wins NZ title on new bike

Rotorua’s Callum Dudson (Honda CRF450RX), outright winner of the 2024 New Zealand Cross-country Championships after the final two rounds over the Easter Weekend. Photo by Andy McGechan,

Bay of Plenty’s Callum Dudson has been crowned the New Zealand cross-country motorcycling champion for 2024 after a busy weekend of racing in the south-east of the North Island.

The 23-year-old builder from Rotorua took his straight-out-of-the-packing-crate new Honda CRF450RX model bike to seal up the title in back-to-back races in contrasting conditions at two different venues over the Easter Weekend.

Round three of four in the national series was held at Flemington, in Central Hawke’s Bay, on Saturday, with the fourth and final round at Tinui, near Masterton, on Easter Monday.

That Dudson was able to compete at all was amazing because his bike had been stolen just a few days before the series’ final two events over the Easter Weekend.

He was still making hurried adjustments to his bike’s suspension less than an hour before Saturday’s race began.

“I had only done a little bit of riding with the new bike and mostly had the settings the way I like things, but there was still work to do because the new bike’s frame and suspension springs were still a little stiff,” Dudson explains.

“It was amazing the service I received from The Honda Shop in Hamilton being able to replace my stolen bike so quickly. Everyone there put in a massive effort.”

Even so, Dudson had to settle for a runner-up result in Saturday’s three-hour race, crossing the finish line less than a minute behind Taupo’s defending senior champion Wil Yeoman, with New Plymouth’s Sam Parker finishing third, just 16 seconds behind Dudson.

This gave Yeoman a small three-point advantage at the top of the standings with just Monday’s race still to come.

And so, as forecast, the title chase would go right down to the wire at the final round on Easter Monday and it was a winner-takes-all scenario for the final showdown on Monday.

With virtually nothing in terms of points to separate Yeoman from Dudson at the start of the day on Monday, it meant that whoever won at Tinui would snatch away the title.

Dudson won the senior race on Monday, crossing the finish line just over two minutes ahead of Yeoman, and so, with both riders having scored two wins and two runner-up finishes over the four rounds, their points tallies were identical.

However, with Dudson having won the crucial final race of the series, he therefore won the title on countback, his first major success at New Zealand championship level.

“It was definitely the goa to win the title this season,” says a delighted Dudson afterwards.

“I was not too worried about finishing runner-up on Saturday, because I knew winning on Monday would be enough to get the job done.

“The track on Monday was dry and quite technical and, although I got off to a good start, Wil (Yeoman) passed me midway through lap one.

“I dug in and went hard after that because I knew it was a winner-takes-all race. I chased him down, re-took the lead and began to pull away from him after that.

“I built a good lead and lost sight on him behind me by the last two (of five) laps.”

The various bike class winners in the senior grade this season are Dudson (XC1), Yeoman (XC2), Huntly’s Brandon Hoskins (XC3), Hamilton’s Phillip Goodwright (veterans 35-44 years), Auckland’s Bryce Williams (veterans over-45 years) and Auckland’s Charlotte Russ (senior women’s class). Class winners in the junior grade this season are Masterton’s Max Williams (two-stroke 125cc and above), Te Awamutu’s Nixon Parkes (two-stroke 250cc and above), Cromwell’s Lochie Cornish (85cc class) and Rotorua’s Grace Fowler (junior women’s class).

2024 New Zealand Cross-country Championships calendar:

Round one, Friday, February 9, St Arnaud, near Nelson;

Round two, Sunday, February 11, St Arnaud, near Nelson;

Round three, Saturday, March 30, Flemington, Central Hawke’s Bay;

Round four, Monday, April 1 (Easter Monday), Bush Riders Club, at Tinui, near Masterton.

-By Andy McGechan,


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