The next generation

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Michael (17) and his father Rhys Wilson are ready to take on the Burt Munro Challenge.

BEING the first Southlander to win the prestigious Burt Munro Family Trophy, Rhys Wilson says it may be time for the next generation to take on the challenge.

A passionate restorer of old, classic motorcycles, Rhys who has competed in nine of the past 11 Burt Munro Challenges, won the annual coveted trophy for ‘competitor of the year’ in 2012.

To be awarded the family trophy, which was donated by the Munro family, a competitor must have traits similar to Burt Munro, such as caring, building and looking after their motorcycles, their determination to win and compete in the events which Burt most enjoyed, such as the beach race, the hill climb and the street race.

Having grown up among the classic Rudges, which Rhys enjoys racing at the challenge, and other bikes, his son Michael (17) is now a seasoned competitor.

At 15, Michael raced a Rudge 350 at Teretonga Park, before graduating to his father’s Rudge 500 Ulster, which he raced at the last challenge in 2016 and will also use at today’s Bluff hill climb, Saturday’s Teretonga circuit races and Sunday’s street races, while Rhys has entered Saturday’s speedway.

“It will be the only one this year because I want to support Michael.”

At past challenges, Rhys had competed at Oreti Beach. However, this year would be different.

“It can take up to five hours to clean it [after a beach race] for the track the next day.”

Although fully restored from parts, some of the Rudges inevitably gain “battle scars”.

“That’s just racing… the bikes are here to be enjoyed,” Rhys said.

While the duo are hoping to “use only one bike”, they will have a spare, Rhys said.

“There is a lot of work getting them on to the track.”

Currently Michael is also in the middle of the Gixxer Cup seven-round series, which began late last year.

Competing nationwide on a Suzuki GSX150F, he is the only one south of Timaru to be selected.

As for the future, once the Gixxer Cup series has finished at the end of March, Michael will be looking forward to competing at the Classic Festival in Timaru on the Rudge in December.

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