He had only really intended to dip his toes into the water, but West Melton motor-cycle ace Hamish Macdonald has instead made an enormous impact across Europe.
The 19-year-old has rapidly shown he’s no minnow after all and it’s perhaps now more accurate to describe him as a big fish on the world scene.
The 19-year-old arrived in Europe at the start of the FIM Enduro GP World Championships season in April with the idea that he would simply “see where I was at with my enduro riding.”
A leading competitor at the top of the national enduro scene at home, Macdonald had already proven himself an accomplished rider in New Zealand, but the step up from domestic to GP-level racing is a huge one indeed, or so most people would think.
“Spain was a big learning curve,” said Macdonald. “It wasn’t what I expected, certainly not like a normal enduro back home.”
At the double-header rounds one and two of the FIM Enduro GP World Championships in Spain in April, Macdonald put his 125cc Sherco bike near the front in the Youth Cup 125 class, finishing runner-up in the GP event’s preliminaries, the prologue stage.
He then went on to finish the weekend third overall and his international enduro career was up and running.
Encouraged by his form, a decision was made that he push on with the world series and he prepared to tackle the double-header rounds three and four in Estonia in June.
He managed a podium finish on day two of the event (second) and finished that weekend fourth overall.
“Estonia was awesome. I struggled a lot on the first day, with some big mistakes, but I knew my speed was there and it showed on the second day.”
At round five in Italy, also in June, the Kiwi was forced to battle with injury after a crash and he settled for sixth overall, but at least he was able to remain in touch with the championship leaders.
Then came the double-header rounds six and seven at Edolo, Italy, a fortnight ago and now it was really time for the Canterbury racer to shine.
Macdonald won both days outright, his 1-1 scorecard easily ensuring he would claim the No 1 step on the podium at that event, the first time since Tauranga’s Stefan Merriman in 2008 that a New Zealand rider has topped the world enduro scene.
The slick and slippery conditions at Edolo played right into Macdonald’s hands and he said that it was “just like home.”
The next two rounds are set for Méthamis, France, on September 22-23, with the final race venue at Ruderdorf, Germany, from October 12 to 14.
Macdonald is expected to return to New Zealand in October for the summer race season.