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JANUARY 29, 2015: The motocross racing career of South Islander Bailey Banks has just launched on an exciting new trajectory.


The 14-year-old Yamaha rider from Reefton, about halfway between Greymouth and Westport, hit a new high when he aced his class at the big annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville last weekend.


Banks, who will begin as a year 10 pupil at Nelson Boys' College this year, was untouchable in the junior 12-14 years' 125cc class at Woodville, taking his YZ125 to score an impressive hat-trick of wins against the cream of New Zealand's young 125cc racers.


He finished nine points ahead of old foe and friend Tony Cvitanovich, of Feilding, with Hawke's Bay's Reece Lister finishing six points further back and taking the third step on the podium.


"Last year was the first time I'd ever raced at Woodville and I finished sixth in the same class. This is my second visit and I won," said an obviously delighted Banks afterwards.


"I have been working very hard on my fitness training lately, with a lot of help coming from Target MX trainer Jade Thompson (of Nelson). He's been coaching me for about two years now and I can see the results starting to come now.


"I was kind of surprised with how easily I won today. I've raced against Tony (Cvitanovich) and Reece (Lister) a bit but I've never previously beaten Tony until now. He was good about it and came over and congratulated me.


"I turn 15 in June, so I have another four months of racing in this age group before I have to move up to the 15-16 years' grade and that means I can still race this younger class at the upcoming nationals. Tony is older than me, so he'll have to move up and that's good news for me."


It's not that Banks should be too concerned anyway about what riders line up against him at the New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships at Otorohanga on April 11-12, particularly since he absolutely caned them all at Woodville.


Banks will also race at the annual Gold Nuggets Motocross at Ikamatua, in Westland, this weekend, where riding on home turf will be sure to give him an added boost.


"I love the bike. The Yamaha is so easy to ride and winning a national title in April is certainly the aim now."


Words and photo by Andy McGechan,