Wednesday, February 8

NIELD WINS NO WAY IN HELL FOR GAS GAS

Mitchell Neild
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com

It is New Zealand’s only extreme enduro – an event to test every nerve, sinew, nut and bolt – and it’s true that not everybody can cope with, let alone finish, The No Way In Hell enduro.

But then Hokianga’s Mitchell Nield is one hell of an enduro rider and his Gas Gas EC300 is one hell of an enduro bike.

The 23-year-old Nield was a scintillating form when he won this year’s second annual two-day No Way In Hell (NWIH) enduro at Oparau on Sunday and on Waitangi Day Monday.

The Kiwi Rider-sponsored NWIH this year was a see-saw battle between the codes with five-time national trials champion and first-time NWIH competitor Jake Whitaker, of Wellington, pushing Nield throughout, while last year’s inaugural NWIH winner, Auckland enduro ace Michael Skinner, had to settle for third outright this time around.

Whitaker won Sunday’s short prologue, finishing ahead of Te Awamutu’s Kevin Archer, with Nield, Skinner and Hawke’s Bay’s seven-time former national trials champion Warren Laugesen rounding out the top five.

But the longer duration racing on Waitangi Day Monday, Nield had the time and opportunity to nullify Whitaker’s intricate trials skills, using his pace and enduro knowledge to shoot back past the balanced and calculating Whitaker.

“It was a multi-lap format this year, with a 15-minute rest period between each lap that enabled riders to catch their breath and gather their thoughts,” said Nield.

“Jake (Whitaker) had a line that I wasn’t keen to try but I’d catch him up again in the fast bits. Jake would ride past me like I was a squid in the steep sections but, on the downhills, I was in my element.

Most of the riders had also raced the opening round of the New Zealand Enduro Championships at the same venue on Saturday, perhaps adding to their fatigue, with only nine of the 51 starters completing three laps on Monday.

"I was pretty worn out at the end of all that,” said Nield. “But the Gas Gas EC300 was perfect and never missed a beat all weekend.”

Laugesen finished fourth, with Archer rounding out the top five.


Nield had also won his over-200cc two-stroke class at round one of the New Zealand Enduro Championships at the same venue on Saturday, while his younger brother, Damon Nield, took his Husqvarna CR125 to top the under-200cc two-stroke class at the enduro nationals opener on Saturday.

Both riders are sponsored by Triumph New Zealand and by Kiwi Rider magazine, with Mitchell supported by Gas Gas New Zealand and Damon supported by Husqvarna New Zealand.

Damon Nield had opted not to ride the NWIH event.