Keeping cool while everyone else was losing it proved to be a winning tactic for Te Puke’s Tyler Steiner at the weekend.
The 17-year-old won the MX2 (250cc) class on an extremely muddy second day of racing at the annual King of the Mountain motocross in Taranaki on Sunday, taking his Kawasaki KX250F to the front from the start and staying out of trouble to claim victory.
Racing conditions were close to perfect for the junior racing on Saturday, but when a "weather bomb" exploded over the Barrett Road motocross track on the outskirts of New Plymouth overnight, organisers were forced to rethink Sunday’s race programme.
The soil became sludge and simply being able to complete a lap was an almost impossible task, forcing organisers to alter the course to remove the steepest hills and also to reduce the duration of the races.
In addition, organisers decided to dilute the day’s senior schedule to just one race for each class and the Taranaki Motorcycle Club officials also abandoned any plans to race the senior King of the Mountain feature race from which the event gets its name.
This meant every rider who won a senior race would also be the champion in their respective class and, with races reduced from 10 laps to just six, it added importance and intensity to each drop of the start gate.
As Steiner exited turn one he had 3Twenty3 Kawasaki Team rider Josh Tredinnick for company, with the two teenagers side-by-side as they ploughed through the muck. But by the third corner, Steiner was in front and with a clear view ahead.
The 17-year-old Tredinnick, from Tauranga, was unfortunate to drop his bike in a bog, the crash also tearing the cap off his radiator. His bike then overheated and forced him to withdraw.
This left Steiner relatively untroubled, in reality battling only the deteriorating track as the other competitors also struggled to stay upright.
He says he knew all he had to do was stay out of trouble to get the win.
“I think the secret was to stay smooth and not ride too aggressively in the mud. I love mud riding. Anyone can just twist the throttle when conditions are perfect, but it takes a bit more skill when it’s this slippery.
“This was motocross at its toughest. This is what the sport is all about.
“It’s always good to come here to this track and the club here did a great job of getting it prepared, especially considering the conditions today."
In other senior races on Sunday, Mangakino’s Kayne Lamont won the MX1 class, Kakaramea’s Ryan Gwynn won the 125cc class, Motueka’s Roma Edwards won the women’s grade, Gisborne’s Johnny Edwards won the veterans’ over-35 years class and New Plymouth’s Mitch Rowe won the veterans’ over-45 years class.