The New Zealand Moto Trials Championship, which has been run since 1972, was held over three days at Labour Weekend in October. New Zealand is made up of two Islands, North and South. Throughout the year each Island holds their own championship held over several weekends. UK’s Jack Sheppard has ridden in the New Zealand Championship back in 2014 and 2016 and has taken the title both times. Another previous two time winner is Stefan Merriman who would possibly be the best trials rider to come from New Zealand with his first place finish in the junior world championship in 1989.
Stefan’s name will be also been known in the UK competing in the Scottish and British Championship. Stefan finished third in the Scottish Six Day in 1992. Stefan left trials for enduro and became world champion in 2000. Some other previous New Zealand winners are two time winner James Lawton, six times winner Andrew Poad and seven time winner Warren Laugesen who all have also competed at Scottish Six Day Trial and done very well.
The 2017 New Zealand Championship was held on the 21 – 23rd of October and was held in the North Island near the bottom of the Island on the Kapiti Coast. New Zealand events are held on mostly farmers properties. This year’s terrain was made up of mostly treacherous creeks, slippery tree roots, sharp rocks, steep banks and climbs. Ten sections of four laps were run over the three days and this year’s championship attracted over 55 competitors.
This year’s winner is Karl Clark, born and raised in Motueka, a small town at the top of the south island. Karl has been competing since 1995, 2003 was the first time Karl competed in the New Zealand Championship top class, expert. Karl managed third place on his first attempt, with winning the first day he also received the New Zealand Experts Trial which is held on one of the three days and has also been run since 1972. Karl then had some time away from the sport due to the birth of his twin boys. Karl came back to the sport in 2008, competing once again in expert class right through till 2014 where Karl finished always in the top three but never managing the top spot. In 2014 Karl suffered a back injury which meant he couldn’t compete at the top level.
Six weeks before the 2017 New Zealand Championship Karl decided to give it one more crack in Expert as age is now not on his side. This has always been a childhood dream of Karls to win the New Zealand Moto Trials Championship. Karl was on true form as he won the premier Expert grade on each of the three days, edging out Taranaki’s Matthew Foster, Christchurch rider Jules Huguenin.
“I was over the moon about the result and thought that chapter had closed for me. Also making it even more special for myself it had been twenty-five years since last won by a South Island rider. Looking back at the weekend, experience was the difference as I had more than ten years over the competition. I thoroughly enjoyed the three days of sections and would like to thank the Ixion Motorcycle Club for putting on a great event. I’m super proud to finally get my name on the Premier Championship grade trophy”.
Karl himself has also competed in the Scottish Six Day Trial from 2014 to 2016 and receiving first class awards.
Karl is adamant the SSDT event is the best event in the world and he would ride it every year if the cost of getting there wasn’t an issue. He feels that riding the SSDT has improved him as a rider. Not ruling out a return to Scotland, never say never. Karls more than happy to hang his boots up in the premier class but will still continue to support the sport he loves here in New Zealand and to give back to the future young riders.