Hayden Wilkinson in the third round of the New Zealand motocross champs in Manawatu. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

Hayden sets his sights on podium

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Richmond motocross rider Hayden Wilkinson is aiming to secure third place in the 125cc class when he heads north for the fourth and final round of the New Zealand Motocross Champs in Taupo on March 25.

Hayden, who is having one of his best seasons since he started competing as a five-year-old, is in third place on 154 points after three rounds.

Although he can’t catch the two pace-setters, Hayden Smith (208 points) and Kurtis Lilly (205 points), Hayden is determined to retain third place ahead of Levin’s Dan Bell (143 points).

“Taupo is a good track and I always race pretty well up there so I’m looking forward to it,” Hayden, who rides a Yamaha, says. “I can’t catch the two leaders so my aim is to stay on my bike and not do anything stupid to make sure I stay in third.”

Hayden says he’s delighted with his form this season although concedes that the two top riders in his class have been too quick.

He finished third in round one in Timaru, fifth in round two at Rotorua and fourth in round three in Manawatu with his best placings being two thirds in the first round.

“I can’t compete with the amount of riding they do in the North Island. The top guys are on teams and are getting paid to ride – they have two bikes and practise a lot.

“I only have my own bike and pay my own way. I have some good sponsors but it’s still very expensive and time consuming.”

Hayden says his key sponsors include Cardells Hair Salon in Nelson which is co-owned by his girlfriend Jade Harrington.

Hayden’s employer J Lewis Building is also a sponsor along with two of his “good mates”  Adam Lithgow who owns Moto Tech in Brightwater and Clinton Manderson who owns Mandos Flooring in Christchurch.

If Hayden finishes third in the national championship, it will be his best result since he finished on the podium in the 85cc class 13 years ago.

“I raced in MX1 for five years before I sold my bike, but then I saw a 125 on Facebook and brought it. I’m  having fun since I stepped down to 125s and when you are having fun you race well”.

Nelson’s Reece Walker and Liam Hutton will also be riding in Taupo in the MX2 class. They will be racing against championship leader and former Takaka rider Hamish Harwood.