New Zealand’s first woman National Motocross Under 200cc two-stroke Cross Country Champion Rachael Archer is currently enjoying her biggest adventure yet, a season in the US racing in the women’s grade of the Grand National Cross Country Championships.
Rachael, 17, is the daughter of Kevin Archer, 51, a Waikato dairy farmer and veteran motocross rider himself with numerous titles under his belt. He’s still going strong and is the current Over 45s Super Veterans Cross Country Champion.
While Kevin came relatively late to the sport, starting at 21, Rachael and her three older brothers started young. She remembers getting her first motorbike at age three. “It was a little two-stroke from The Warehouse and I used to hoon around the paddocks and the tennis court.”
Her older brothers have given up the sport, but Rachael has gone from strength to strength. “I did my first cross country when I was 10, riding a KLX 110, and I came fourth. I’ve been hooked ever since!”
Parents Kevin and Lynne are farmers at Ngaroma in the Waikato, with a 610-cow dairy farm, grazing for 1400 beef and dairy cattle, a run-off farm, and an earthmoving business.
Combined, the three properties offer Rachael and Kevin 2000ha to practise over. “We’ve got quite a few tracks we’ve made through the bush,” says Kevin. “All of our neighbours are pretty into riding too, so we get together and ride over all the farms.”
Kiwi riders feature highly on the international scene, a fact Kevin puts down to the conditions offered back home. “We have the best riding available here in NZ, with fewer restrictions. With bipolar weather and rugged terrain, our riders are very adaptable to different conditions.”
Kevin works full-time overseeing managers put in place across the businesses, however he’s away a great deal competing with Rachael. Lynne and their “awesome” farm team take over the reins while they’re away.
Rachael works on the family farm and around the district during busy times, and rides three to four times a week between competitions. She maintains her fitness with crossfit, mountain biking, swimming and running.
Rachael’s petite stature belies her ability. Kevin and Lynne are clearly impressed at their daughter’s titles in several disciplines across the sport – motocross, cross country and enduro races. The self-confessed adrenalin junkies love the thrill of the gruelling enduro races.
“Last year I won the overall title in the bronze class in the NZ extreme Enduro series,” says Rachael.
The first woman to win the title, Kevin is quick to point out his daughter competes in men’s classes nowadays as she has no competition in NZ’s women’s classes.
The duo have also been part of the NZ Husqvarna Off-Road Team, with KTM/Husqvarna sponsorship.
Rachael is consistently in the top 10 for men in NZ and for the first time in 2018, started to beat her dad, which does not faze him. “She’s very skillful, and has amazing mental and physical stamina.
“I’ve watched her compete for hours on tracks that grown men have withdrawn from in tears.”
Kevin’s competed in Extreme enduros all over the world, winning the Silver class at the 2016 Red Bull Romaniacs, the hardest enduro ralley in the world spanning five days. Both he and Rachael want to enter one together in future. “I’ve tried some gold tracks and they are insane in places,” says Rachael, who is the first to admit she loves “beating the boys” and knows they try extra hard to beat her.
She finished her schooling at St Peter’s School, Cambridge, at the end of Year 12 when the opportunity to compete full-time in her beloved sport became a reality.
In January Rachael headed to South Carolina in the US to spend a season competing for AmPro Yamaha, in the Women’s GNCC competitions, and the American National Enduro Championships.
As part of American cross-country legend Randy Hawkins’ team, she’s been training full-time, riding and marketing herself. Her accommodation, three customised bikes and mechanics are provided by Yamaha, and she’s already picked up several other sponsors.
As of last month she was fourth overall after seven of 13 rounds in her first full GNCC season, an internationally-renowned series with races all along the US east coast, from New York to Florida.
“I’m really happy with the progress I’m making and my focus is getting a championship in my first season, which is definitely on the cards if I keep going the way I have been.”
She has two more GNCC races and two enduro nationals events before summer break, when she’ll return home in August. Then she’s back to race the last four GNCCs and four enduro rounds. “It’ll all be wrapped up by the start of November and I’ll be back home for my 18th birthday and Christmas. “My plan is to come back again next year with bigger and better ambitions for the 2020 season.”
One thing for sure is at the first opportunity, this father-and-daughter duo will compete together again.