Motocross riders Paul Bickley (Aparima College), Todd Keown and James Dickson (Central Southland College) have recently completed the final of the KTM Mainland Series consisting of five gruelling races with the final in Blenheim.
Bickley finished first in the under-250cc class while Keown was first in the over 250cc class with Dickson runner-up.
Both Bickley and Keown also excelled at the New Zealand Cross Country Championships held recently in Hawke's Bay.
Both finished with highly commendable third placings against the elite opposition.
Bickley has also achieved first placing in the MotoSouth Series, winning all four races. He won the Otago Day/Niter, also winning races in Taranaki and Canterbury. Amazingly, he has not been beaten in more than 18 races on his Honda CRF 150r in the 12 to 16 years 150cc class.
Keown also had a first placing in the New Zealand Southern Series and a third placing in the Motosouth Series. Dickson placed second in the Motosouth Series and was first in the 15-20 year class at Mosgiel.
The demanding races are held on natural terrain tracks about 15 to 20 kilometres long over extremely rugged ground, including huge and steep hills, deep rivers, bogs, rocks, trees and other obstacles.
Each race lasts about 1 hours, equivalent to about eight motocross races.
The successful Southland riders have battled extreme wet weather where creeks have turned into rivers and dirt tracks deteriorated to mud bogs as deep as their bikes.
Freezing sleet and howling winds have prevailed at times along with dusty days when riders could see only a few metres in front of them. Such conditions have demanded high skills.
All three had extensive training before performing with such distinction at a high level of competition, showing again that Southlanders have what it takes.
- The Southland Times