When it comes to cross-country motorcycle racing, Te Uku teen Jason Dickey is a chip off the old block. He’s been riding since he could walk and is winning trophies exactly as his dairy-farming dad Grant did years ago as a “young fella”.
Now Jason, 15, has a top junior honour to his name after finishing second overall in the New Zealand Cross-Country Nationals held recently at Christchurch. And right behind him in third place was Te Mata teen Matthew Quirke, 14, who is both a friend and a foe in the competition stakes.
Also excelling in the champs was 17-year-old Brandon Given from Ruapuke who used to race against Jason in the juniors, but has now stepped up to the seniors where he placed a superb second in his class.
Both younger boys qualified for the nationals by competing in a series of up to five North Island races which saw them riding non-stop around a 10 kilometre track for one and a half hours, getting “lap-scored”.
Exciting, adrenaline-pumping stuff, they reckon, with shotgun Le Mans-style starts.
The pair topped all rivals in their class — up to 200cc 2 stroke — with Jason coming first and Matt second. Jason says he was second in every race except the last one, when a mechanical problem meant he lost his place to Matt.
Apart from losing a race, adds Jason, mechanical problems are the worst thing about the sport. But for the Raglan Area School year 11 student, it’s getting days off school to travel the country for the thrilling events that rate as one of the best parts.
He’s been racing competitively since the age of 12 and has done the North Island series for four years now, he says.
But this year’s been Jason’s best so far, he reckons, with two wins leading in to the nationals — the first, in January, at Huntly Motorcycle Club’s annual Bel Ray series which has been a major event on the cross-country calendar for about 15 years, and the second in February and March at the newer two-round Raglan Rocx series.
For Jason’s dad, it was a trip down memory lane when his son won the Bel Ray series because he took the title himself, twice, as a senior when the event first began. More recently however, in 2008, it was Ruapuke’s Brandon who won it — like Jason — as a junior.
With just a year left to compete before moving on to the seniors, Jason’s now aiming for the very top of his field. Not content with being runner up, he wants to finish first overall in next year’s national cross-country championships.
He has a driving ambition, he says, to be a “national titleholder not a class-holder”.
But no, he doesn’t practise as such: “I just ride round the farm all the time.”
Edith Symes