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If there was a better start to the 2017 BMX racing year, we haven’t heard about it. The Australian BMX season kicked off in top gear at the Nerang BMX Club from January 6-7 with…

If there was a better start to the 2017 BMX racing year, we haven’t heard about it.

The Australian BMX season kicked off in top gear at the Nerang BMX Club from January 6-7 with more than 270 riders attending to compete in both the Chambikx/Probikx UCI and Grands Assault National Series.

Number of competitors aside, the level of racing displayed from riders as young as 10, through to the eldest competitors was exemplary for the first event of the year.

Before we move onto the second event of the year at Shepparton BMX Club, to be held from February 4-5, here’s a look back on the weekend that was in Nerang.

Chambikx/Proibkx UCI

Doing it for grandad

 

Tall, powerful, experienced and a die-hard competitor. The Northern Territory’s Matt Juster is an intimidating rider on track, but on day one of school we saw a softer, sentimental side to him.

From the moment the gate dropped in Nerang Juster was on the money as he finished first in all but one Moto, won his quarterfinal and semi final, before claiming victory in the very first Elite Men’s event of the year.

In the moments after winning, he dedicated the victory to his grandfather, who had passed away just four days prior.

Watch out for Juster over the coming events, if his dominance on the first day in Nerang was anything to go by, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with for the remainder of 2017.

Kiwi steals the limelight on Aussie soil

 

New Zealander Zoe Fleming doesn’t mind causing an upset, in fact she’s done it before at Nerang!

Fleming upstaged a field of Aussies, including reigning national champion Leanna Curtis to win her first ever Elite Women’s race with a tidy performance in the final.

Curtis inevitably finished third, the pair split by Queensland’s Tyler-Lea Thorly.

The result mimicked Fleming’s result from Nerang in 2015, when she won her first ever Junior Elite Women’s event. Ironically Thorly also featured in the top three on that day as she finished third.

Sakakibara & Boyton deal the new students a tough lesson

Experience proved key in the women and men’s Junior Elite races at Nerang with Saya Sakakibara and Joshua Boyton coming out on top come race day.

Sakakibara had come into the event as the favourite, and delivered in spades as she won every single lap she contested during the event. While the results will show her strength, it would be remiss to overlook the performance of Caboolture BMX Club’s Sara Jones who put Sakakibara’s win under serious pressure.

In the junior men’s race Boyton put his first year of experience in the junior class from 2016 to good use, producing a smart race to finish a second clear of Izaac Kennedy, Matt Krasevskis in third.

Just like Sakakibara, Boyton won every lap he contested to make a statement ahead of the remainder of the season.

Welcome to big school

 

A number of riders made their first step into the challenger classes, entering the 14-years Chambikx Series.

Ready to begin their path to the Olympic Games or life as a professional BMX rider, some of Australia’s most promising future talent put their best foot forward for victory.

Come the end of racing it was Buddha Baum (pictured below) in the boy’s event and Paige Harding in the girl’s who put themselves ahead of the pack, claiming their first wins in the series.

Welcome back to the top step

 

As much as things change, they stay the same.

There were a number of familiar faces populating the podium in the remaining age groups of the Chambikx UCI series.

Chief among them was Beenleigh BMX Club’s Des’Ree Barnes (pictured below), who had a flawless 2016 in the 14-years girl’s National Series and National Championships, before winning her age group world title. In 2017 she moved to the 15-years class and continued her winning form.

Meanwhile in the 16-years boy’s class the name Brad Shaylor sat at the top at the end of the day, just as it did in March 2016 when he won the 15-years boy’s event at the BMX Australia National Championships in Bathurst.

It was the same story in the 16-years girl’s race as Molly McGill picked up in Nerang where she left off in Bathurst last year, as number one in her age group.

Can they maintain the momentum?

 

Victoria’s Tasman Wakelin saved his best lap at Nerang until the final of the 15-year’s boy’s race as he swept through the field to win his event. It’s a positive step forward for Wakelin after a tough run at last year’s national championships.

Michael Robinson claimed a clear win in the 30+ Masters class to beat home Luke Marsh and Sam Baber by a healthy margin, while Dirk Winter held off Hayden Jones in the 17-29 men’s event.

Tegan McClellan won the women’s 17+ event.

Grands Assault

 

More riders, more races.

The Grands Assault National Series broke cover for the first time in Nerang, and like the Chambikx/Probikx Series those competing in it left nothing on the table.

With just five rounds, the last of which will be held at the BMX Australia National Championships, this Series will award one of the most coveted prizes in BMX racing for the victors in each class – a trip to the USA BMX Grand Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma in November 2017.

Up-and-comers top the pro classes

In the AA Pro Men’s class Mackay’s Tristyn Kronk (pictured below) drew first blood as he chalked up his first ever elite win to beat home Nicholas Fox of New Zealand and Victoria’s Joshua McLean.

The Pro Women’s race pitted prolific age group winner Des’Ree Barnes against Aussie Champ Leanna Curtis and the highly rated Saya Sakakibara.

Sakakibara won, while day one elite women’s winner Zoe Fleming back up for a second place finish, compatriot Jessie Smith coming in third.

Lake Macquarie BMX Club’s Nathaniel Rodway had come to Nerang with high expectations of himself as he moved into the Junior Elite Men’s class for the Probikx Series. However a disappointing result there seemingly fuelled a fire as the young Novocastrian put the win beyond doubt in the A Pro Men’s race, taking the first step towards a trip to the USA.

Winter is coming

Among the older male riders it was two familiar names who finished atop the standings, Dirk Winter claiming victory in the 17-32 men, while Michael Robinson was the pick of the bunch in the Vet Pro class. Both ended with a flawless weekend across the Chambikx/Probikx UCI and Grands Assault National Series in their respective classes.

Age groupers fix their eyes on the prize

Molly McGill again proved to be atop her age group as she won the 16-years girl’s event, while Cairns rider Wade Mundie won the boy’s. In the 15-year age groups Oliver Moran beat home Kai Angel in the boy’s race, Kiana Botfield the winner in the 15-years girl’s.

There was more joy for the Cairns BMX Club in the 14-years girl’s event with Shannon Petrie finishing first.

Meanwhile Nerang BMX Club’s Jesse Asmus won on home soil in the corresponding boy’s event, Kira Hill and Tyson Kenny doing the same in the 13-years girl and boy’s events.

In the 12-years girl’s Isabella Schramm beat home Sienna Pal and Sophie Craig, while Thomas Tucker won the boy’s event with Callum Howarth and Campbell Allan finishing second and third respectively.

Samual O’Grady won the 11-year’s boy’s event from Brodie Gooch, nine-years world champion Portia Eden beating home world number two Sacha Mills in the girl’s event.

Ashton Kenny won the 10-years boy’s event, the youngest age group to contest the Grands Assault National Series, beating home Oliver Rivers and Ashton Pace.

PICS: Paul Goodall/Racer Pics