New Zealand will this year have a strong presence in the world's highest-profile off-road motorcycling event, set to be raced in the hotbed of Europe in just over three months' time.
The 2022 International Six Days Enduro will this year be staged near the town of Le Puy en Velay, in southern France, in late August and early September, and will again attract the dirt bike racing elite from all corners of the planet.
Despite the extreme level of the competition, the calibre of the Kiwi line-up possibly sees them ranked among some of the favoured teams at this "Olympic Games of enduro racing", being held between August 29 and September 3.
Managed by Motorcycling New Zealand enduro commissioner Justin Stevenson, from Wellington, with assistance from MNZ board member and experienced former motocross team manager Mike McLeod, also from the Wellington region, the Kiwi squad of riders know they will have to be at their best to compete favourably so far from home.
A strong contingent of supporters will also be travelling to assist the team during the event.
The senior "Trophy Team" comprises Helensville's Tom Buxton, Howick's Liam Draper, Christchurch's Hamish MacDonald and Cambridge's Dylan Yearbury.
The Junior Team will be Oparau's James Scott, Wairoa's Tommy Watts and Taupo's Wil Yeoman.
A New Zealand "Club Team" will also tackle the ISDE in France and that comprises Oratia's Callan May, Waitoki's Ben Cotrill and Helensville's Josh Jack.
The non-travelling "NZ1 Support Team" will be Whanganui's Seth Reardon (Trophy Team reserve); Christchurch's Ben Dando (Junior Team reserve); and Dan Watson, a Kiwi who now calls Zambia his home (support rider).
Draper is currently racing in the United States and both Macdonald and Buxton are racing together in Spain, Italy and Portugal.
They will each leave their respective overseas bases to join up with the rest of the New Zealand squad in France.
Yearbury, Macdonald and Reardon have been New Zealand's No.1 enduro riders of the past three seasons, Yearbury winning the national crown last year, Macdonald in 2020 and Reardon in 2019.
Stevenson says preparations were "going well" and there was still an option for additional "Club Teams" to be entered.
"Club teams will need to be self-funded," he said. "For any riders would like to enter, the overall cost per rider (with one supporter) is approximately $20,000. We have until this week to register additional teams," says Stevenson.
Anyone interested in registering additional teams should please email email@example.com
-Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com