Trials Torque Articles
The Nelson Mail - 23rd October 2006
Trials champion shows his class
Defending champion Warren Laugesen showed why he has six national motorcycle trials titles, making light work of a technical course on Sunday to lead the expert A class after two days of the national championships in Nelson.
Laugesen had only to maintain that form on the final day on Monday to win a seventh consecutive national championship.
The 33-year-old from Levin led after a comparatively easy opening day on the Nonstop Trials course in Eighty-eight Valley on Saturday before showing his class in testing conditions in the Riwaka Valley on Sunday.
The already technical course, with 10 boulder-hopping tests, was made even more demanding after steady rain reduced traction to a wheel-slipping minimum.
But Laugesen handled the mud and treacherous boulders with ease, putting a useful break on the chasing pack leading into the final day.
He was on the maximum 50 points after winning the first two days. Jason Baker of Blenheim was second on 44 points, with promising 15-year-old Jake Whittaker of Wellington third on 40.
However, Laugesen, who had a limited build-up to the championships, admitted that he was concerned after making a less than perfect start. A series of uncharacteristic errors allowed Baker and Whittaker to put pressure on Laugesen before he delivered his customary class halfway through the first day.
"I had a nervous start," the former professional rider said. "I made some silly mistakes that I shouldn't have made.
"Jason and Jake were really close, but then my second lap gave me an advantage and I managed to hold it. And today, my experience in these conditions gave me an advantage - you had to ride a lot more aggressively and still be delicate on the throttle and clutch."
Laugesen rated Sunday's rain-affected course "average difficulty by New Zealand national standards". Riders needed to accelerate harder in the mud to gain traction but throttle back on the slippery rocks, he said.
In the expert B class, Motueka's Karl Clark (50 points) led Nelson's Nick Oliver and Rory Mead of Manawatu, both on 42 points. The fiercely contested intermediate class was led by Ryan Hampton of Christchurch on 50 points from Nelson's Oliver Biggs (41) and Tauranga's Warwick Merriman (39), after six riders completed a perfect score of zero on the first day.
Nelson's Peter Oliver was dominating the junior class with a maximum 50 points, six and 10 points clear respectively of Manawatu riders Shaun Mead and Robert McEwan. Nigel Shilton of Tauranga led the presidents' class on 47 points, with Paul McLeod leading the clubman class on 50 points.
The championship was to conclude at Hickmott's property in Motueka on Monday.
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