Girlpower proved the difference for the New Zealand BMX team who scored a rare win over Australia across the Tasman in the Mighty 11s Test series at the weekend.
The annual series has been contested for more than 20 years between the five best 11-year-old BMX riders from Australia and New Zealand.
For the first time New Zealand included a female in Te Awamutu’s Rebecca Petch, who proved to be the star performer in the kiwi victory at the Casino BMX Club in northern New South Wales.
New Zealand won 125 to 70 with Petch dominating with three wins from her five motos while Tauranga’s Richard Levis also won a moto and Gisborne’s Lewis Smith had a string of second placings to cement the overall victory.
Petch was awarded the overall Mighty 11 Challenge Trophy as the leading rider as well as the best female.
“Rebecca was an absolute star, dominating the racing,” said team manager Ces Smith. “She’s very quick out of the gates. She won three out of the five motos and only bad luck prevented her from winning the others. It was unbelievable riding. The Aussies were gobsmacked.
“We’re very proud of the team who all rode extremely well. The team was really well balanced and worked together as a whole. When Rebecca didn’t have a great start, the team worked together to create space around the outside for Richard Levis to win.”
Petch, who was second in her age group and third in the cruiser class at the world championships in Adelaide last year, recently won the national title in Pukekohe.
“Last year in New Zealand I was in the scholarship girls team and this year was a lot harder,” Petch said. “The boys were more aggressive. I had to get a good gate and had to take my lines. I listened to Clive (coach Clive Telford).
“When I was like three years old it was my dream to be in the Mighty 11s boys team.”
Her idol is New Zealand world champion Sarah Walker, who lives near Petch in Cambridge.
“I hope to follow in Sarah’s footsteps. So far I am the only girl from New Zealand who has ever raced with the boys.”
Australia was the first to blood a female in their Mighty 11 team, which is the key nursery for burgeoning BMX talent. Multi world champion Melissa Mankowski competed for Australian 2000 although they lost that series to the kiwis.
It’s back to school for Petch tomorrow, heading home to compete in an interschool netball tournament.
New Zealand also won the Scholarship Girls series to grab a clean sweep over their Australian rivals.
The New Zealand teams were:
Mighty 11s: Kieran Ngatai (Tauranga) Rebecca Petch (Te Awamutu), Richard Levis (Tauranga), Lewis Smith (Gisborne) and Ihakara Pene (Rotorua).
Scholarship girls team: Shania Rawson (Tauranga), Rayner Jackson (North Avon Christchurch) and Julia Carter–Bell (Whangarei).