Sarah Walker and Trent Jones claimed titles at the National Elite BMX Championships today.
Walker, who has spent much of the last two years sidelined with injury, was pleased to complete an unbeaten day riding mostly against junior elite riders to claim her first national title in five years.
It was much closer in the elite men with Jones grabbing his first national elite title by the narrowest of margins over fellow Cycling New Zealand high performance teammate Daniel Franks.
Walker was best out of the gate in all three rides and dominated from there in a day that has given the Olympic silver medallist confidence.
“I had three really good starts, three smooth laps and my first title in four or five years so I am pretty happy,” Walker said.
“This morning I thought regardless of how today goes, the fact that I am able to race a national champs is awesome.”
It also signalled some solid form heading into tomorrow’s important Oceania Championships which carry valuable Olympic qualifying points.
“It was good to do some racing today ahead of tomorrow because I’ve not raced off the 8m hill here before, so to get some racing in and get an idea of what it is like going into that first straight is invaluable.”
Te Awamutu rider Rebecca Petch impressed to finish second to Walker in all three motos to win the junior elite honours from East City’s Zoe Fleming.
In the elite men Jones, who is mostly based in USA under Australian coach Sean Dwight, won all three of his qualifying motos. He cleared out in the first and third motos, but had to force his way through on the second straight in the second race to earn an unbeaten record.
In the other qualifying group, Franks won the opening two motos over fellow high performance squad member Matt Cameron, impressing when he jumped his way into the lead on the second straight in the opening race.
Cameron took out the final moto impressively from Franks to also qualify for the final.
Jones was best out of the gate in the final but Franks made a huge move under the leader to push to the front. The Christchurch rider held his lead into the final straight, but under pressure from Jones, he slightly overshot a small jump as Jones edged past on the line to win with half a wheel separating the pair.
Cameron’s day ended when he was taken down in a crash with North Harbour’s Michael Bias.
“I’m pretty stocked. After nearly four years in elites this is the first time I’ve been able to compete. I am always happy to win a national title,” Jones said.
“I was actually third out of the turn so I had to sit patiently and wait my time to pass. I picked it perfectly on the final turn and Dan overshot the final jump which allowed me to just get past on the line.
“I felt good today with four wins from four laps which helps build some confidence for tomorrow.”
Meanwhile local Sunset Coast rider Maynard Peel won the junior elite honours from Bayleigh Rees (Papakura) and Jayden Fleming (East City).
Tomorrow is the Oceania Championships starting at 11am with the leading Australians taking on the best of the Kiwis at the Sunset Coast BMX track at Puni, near Pukekohe.