The International Six Days Enduro blew through New Zealand like a benign whirlwind.
For one mad week in November, New Zealand hosted a world motorcycling event the likes of which it has never seen before and is unlikely to see again.
Not since the World Superbikes were hosted at Feilding’s Manfeild circuit in the early 1990s has this country seen so much international motorcycling talent assembled in the one place and, in fact, the ISDE superseded that.
With more than 600 riders from 31 nations converging on the lakeside tourist town of Taupo between November 14 and 19, the Bay of Plenty region became the centre of the dirt biking universe as international motorcycling media turned its focus on New Zealand.
In addition, more than $15 million poured into the region as motel beds filled, camp sites overflowed and bars and nightclubs rocked through the night.
The sports event itself received praise from far and wide, with four-time former world champion and two-time former ISDE outright winner Stefan Merriman describing it as one of the best ISDE events ever.
“As far as a Six Days goes, I reckon it’s one of the best we’ve had for several years,” said the Kiwi international.
ISDE event director Sean Clarke, an international racer in his own right, said it was a dream come true to stage an event of such magnitude so close to his home.
“It was hard work though. It was a lot bigger that even I thought it would be,” said Clarke.
Clarke and his largely volunteer team of about 200 personnel also hit all the right notes with Motorcycling New Zealand’s chief executive officer, Paul Pavletich.
“I was really overwhelmed by the number of volunteers. I always know it was going to be a success because of all the work put in by these people but I was blown away by the enthusiasm of them all.
“We at MNZ have received massive positive feedback from the FIM (the sport’s governing body) and I’m quietly confident we’ll get to stage more international motorsports events, possibly even a MotoGP,” he said.
He said the success of this year’s ISDE proves New Zealand, though a long way from the European hotbed of world championship motorcycling, is both willing and very capable of staging world-class events.