Canterbury’s Hamish MacDonald is the first New Zealand rider to win a World Enduro Champion.
Originally from West Melton, MacDonald (20) was crowned the FIM 125cc Youth Enduro World Champion after the final round, of seven, in Ambert, France this weekend. Held in the Forez mountains, through 320,000ha of alternating meadows, forests, and pastures, he raced over several demanding hours of roots and rocky surfaces.
The victory was made even sweeter, after a tough season where the Sherco rider broke both the scapula bone in his shoulder and his clavicle, at May’s third round in Spain. He fought back hard to recover and return to the top of the category.
“I cannot find the words, this title is just incredible! The season was very tricky when I broke my collarbone, and my rivals have pushed. All I can say is thank you to my team and my family, but also to the Edmondson family for welcoming me and taking care of me away from home all year. I still haven’t taken in what’s happening, but I can promise you that we’re going to celebrate tonight!” MacDonald says.
He joined the Enduro GP last year after what had been a long time since a New Zealander took on the sport’s special tests. The last Kiwi to race in this series was Pahiatua’s Paul Whibley back in 2003. The tough enduro discipline is run on extended cross-country and off-road courses, featuring many different obstacles and challenges.
Whibley (41), who is a two-time former Grand National Cross-country Champion in the United States and a six-time former US Off-road Motorcycle and ATV series champion, says it’s a massive achievement for MacDonald to win this world enduro title.
“The level of racing is a huge step up in itself. The terrain is different to New Zealand and has a huge variety – let alone being on the other side of the world! Hamish has some good people around him. Some of his mechanics are the same guys that I had while I raced there many years ago, so the team has some huge experience,” Whibley says.
He described an enduro race as somewhat like World Rally Championship stages.
“The special stages are timed to the second. These generally determine the winner as the fastest rider wins. But there is also an endurance aspect. You have to ride some varied terrain between these sections, so you have to look after your bike. You ride to a prescribed time and change tyres and your bike maintenance is all done under time allowance,” Whibley adds.
Already a multi-New Zealand Enduro Champion, MacDonald rides a Sherco with the support of Fabrizio Azzalin and his team Sherco CH Racing.
Motorcycling New Zealand’s General Manager Virginia Henderson says its been a golden few weeks for the country’s riders, with the sport producing two world champions within a month. Otago’s Courtney Duncan won the Women’s World Motocross Championship in September.
“It’s incredible to see what our New Zealand riders can achieve in the world arena. As the governing body, Motorcycling New Zealand gives them as much support as we can but because motorcycling is not recognised as an Olympic sport, it receives no funding from High Performance Sport NZ,” she says.
“Our congratulations go out to Hamish for his stellar result and for making his nation proud!” Henderson adds.