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Experience The Key In Appointment


APRIL 8, 2015: The first step has been taken in New Zealand's bid to climb back among the world's motocross elite.

Successful Wellington motorcycle businessman Mike 'Big Mac' McLeod has been named manager for Team New Zealand for the upcoming annual Motocross of Nations (MXoN) - widely regarded as the "Olympic Games of motocross" - set this year for Ernee, in France, in September.

The New Zealand trio of riders failed to qualify for the main event at last year's MXoN in Latvia and this makes the Kiwi bid this year even more difficult with no assistance funding now expected from the world sport's governing body, the FIM.

This year's squad of riders won't be announced for several weeks.

Still a current racer himself, with more than 40 years' involvement in the sport, including several terms acting as Motorcycling New Zealand's motocross commissioner, the 49-year-old McLeod has previously been MXoN team manager for New Zealand four times in the past.

He has also on four occasions been an FIM international jury member and managed several New Zealand riders on racing campaigns in Asia.

It was this experience that set him apart from the other applicants.

"I'm thrilled and proud to be appointed and I'm looking forward to working with our riders to again bring home a good result at this event," said McLeod.

Motorcycling New Zealand motocross commissioner Howard Lilly, of Auckland, said it was McLeod's many years of experience and his many contacts in Europe that stood out in favour of his nomination.

"We are all working together on being there in France with a strong team," said Lilly.

"Myself, Mike (McLeod), Neil Ritchie and one other person, yet to be determined, will be working to put a solid campaign together. We need to find additional sponsorship this year and that makes things quite a bit harder."

He said they intend to gather a squad of 8-10 riders to work with before the final trio, plus one reserve rider, is eventually selected.

"We need expressions of interest from our leading riders and an application form will soon be placed on the Motorcycling New Zealand web site."

The venue for this year's MXoN at Ernee, is in north-western France, not far inland from where the D-Day landings took place during World War Two.

Perhaps a Kiwi invasion of France this September could also be a winning one.

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan,