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Local motocross rider Tommy Watts’s thoughts are with Wairoa as he rips into a new year of national and international competition.
“It’s cool to see everyone come together and lend a hand where it’s needed,” says the QRS-sponsored athlete.
The ambitious 21-year-old Wairoa rider is the son of Graeme and Bronnie Watts and has been racing motocross since he could sit on a bike.
In 2022 he was first in the New Zealand XC2 Cross Country Nationals and 2nd in the Overall Cross Country Nationals.
In his overseas debut the same year, Watts competed in America’s premier off-road racing series, GNCC Racing, with a best finish of 7th.
“Last year was huge for me,” says Watts, who traveled by himself and experienced the highs and lows that come with the sport. “It's not always easy but the experience has prepared me well mentally and physically and I want to go back and finish on the podium.”
In the middle of the year, Watts hopes to ride in the world’s largest annual off-road motorcycle competition: the International Six Day Enduro, in San Juan, Argentina.
The premier competition is a test of riding skill, endurance, and machine reliability, and dates back to 1913.
Watts can’t be sure that New Zealand will send a team, but he is doing everything he can to be ready in the lead-up just in case. “I did the same event in France last year and so now I know what I would be getting into.”
Up until recently, Watts has been working as a farm hand and then a spray operator in and around Wairoa. Watts is now working for former motocross world champion Ben Townley at Townley’s motocross vacation business near Rotorua.
Watts says it's the perfect environment for him. He can hone his skills in servicing bikes while also tapping into Townley’s international competition experience and advice. While based in the central North Island he looks forward to competing at local club days. “It’s awesome and I’m grateful to Ben for the opportunity.”
When he’s not blitzing jumps and riding with his throttle pinned, Watts remains committed to serious training which includes gym workouts, swimming, and mountain biking. He spends a lot of time servicing his Yamaha-sponsored bikes and has coached young riders at Yamaha Kids Camps. This month he is mentoring teen double junior motocross champion Cole Davies.
“It’s what older riders have done for me in the past and so it’s nice to be able to give back.”
THINKING OF HOME
In February Watts flew from Auckland to the United States to continue to work with Davies. It was the day that Cyclone Gabrielle struck Wairoa and Watts was worried when he couldn’t talk to family.
“I couldn’t get in touch with any of my family or friends down there. It was frustrating not being able to check in to see if they were alright.”
The communication blackout continued while he was in America and a week passed before he could talk to home. “It was reassuring to hear they were all good, but it was crazy to see the state that Wairoa was in after all the flooding.”
As soon he returned to New Zealand he shot down to Wairoa. “It’s cool to see everyone come together and lend a hand where it’s needed. All I can say is keep pushing through it. Every day will get better, and I wish everyone the best.”
QRS THROWS IN ITS SUPPORT
Watts’ commitment to the sport of motocross has interested and always impressed staff at Wairoa company Quality Roading and Services (QRS), many of whom enjoy motorsports. The company now sponsors Watts and staff are looking forward to following his 2023 season.
Chief executive Jeremy Harker says, “Despite coming from a small town, Tommy has rolled up his sleeves and thrown all his time and energy into many areas of his sport earning national recognition along the way.”
Watts brings the same values to motocross as QRS does to its work in the community. “He’s Wairoa-proud like we are and so we’re thrilled to be able to partner with him this way.”
19 April 2023
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