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Justine Fox in action during the South Island ATV Women's Championship on Saturday. Photo Katrina Parish

Ashburton’s Justine Fox won the South Island ATV Women’s Championship on Saturday.

It is a record feat.

Not only was it on her 26th birthday, but it’s her first season of competition.

She only started racing in March this year.

It was also a New Zealand ATV Motocross national race; she placed second in a field of eight.

She rides a Suzuki LTZ400. It’s a recent purchase having borrowed other club members’ bikes during the season after her first bike turned out to be “a bit of a dud”.

“It’s the slowest bike in our grade pretty much, I’m on the smallest cc bike,” she said.

“Mainly everybody races 450s – that’s the size of the engine – it’s just what I picked to go with at this stage, because it’s only my first season.”

Fox got into quad racing through a close friend who had moved from Christchurch to Ashburton.

She joined the Canterbury ATV Association, which sees around 50 to 60 riders gather every second weekend at various locations around Canterbury, for grass racing or speedway racing.

The nationals were held at Dirt Farm, near Pleasant Point. It was a clay based track and the mud was flying.

The meetings are run by national ATV icon Ian Fftich, of Amberley, who also thankfully sponsored many of the events, Fox said.

She tries to get out on her bike at least once a week to train.

“I try to just keep it fun,” she said.

In her youth she was interested in horses, and had recently bought a horse float to get back into it.

However now the float operates as a motorbike carrier. She has plans to sell and buy an enclosed motorbike trailer but no plans to upgrade her motorbike just yet. She wants to make sure she is properly equipped to handle the extra power. Most of the time she races in third or fourth gear (of five).

The longest track she has raced on was 1.6km. It was the Canterbury Championship grass TT series and where Fox got her first racing trophy; she placed third.

“It’s kind of a big jump in some aspects. If you’re in the wrong gear going round the corner, you’ll stall it, whereas on a 400 it will just tick away by itself and it won’t stall.”

She did agriculture classes at high school which included an ATV section but had only had a couple of past rides on motorbikes, including one many moons ago where she canned off.

Fox works at EA Networks as a cable layer, where she has been for the past 18 months.

She encourages anyone interested to give ATV racing a go.

“It’s not about what you have, it’s the people you are around, (in the club) everybody is willing to help out,included lending motorbikes to those in need.

“There’s always somebody there to help out. You could buy the flashiest bike on the market, it doesn’t mean you are going to win. It’s like with me being on the smallest bike, it just proves that it’s not what you have, it’s how you ride it.”

– Toni Williams