Eva Wintle overcame “two very crappy days” to win her first motorcycle championship race at Taupō on Sunday.
The Masterton real estate sales consultant admits to being surprised with her victory in Sunday’s first race of the Suzuki Gixxer 150 class after a disastrous start to the three-day meeting during practice on Friday when she had an off and high-sided going into turn two.
“I hurt my shoulders and hands quite badly, which set me back in terms of my confidence quite drastically for race one on Saturday, and I struggled to get my head back into it, I guess,” Wintle said.
“I qualified eighth, and I did not feel good about that, and unfortunately, I was at the back of the pack in race one. I didn’t do too well and finished eighth and wasn’t too happy about that, but I had to be a bit kind to myself because I was in quite a lot of pain, and I just didn’t quite have the confidence.”
Sunday, though, was a different story with rain for races two and three, conditions in which the 23-year-old thrived.
“For some reason, I seemed to like the rain, and I went out, but I didn’t have a very good start and had to make my way through the pack, which wasn’t the easiest thing,” she said.
“I don’t really know I did it, but I worked my way up to the front, and before I knew it, we were two laps before the white flag and the other guy Nathan [Finlay], and I had a really good battle, and I managed to sit in front, and then finally the chequered flag came out.
“It was very surprising, and I didn’t anticipate managing to take first place after having two very crappy days
with not-very-good success.
“The boys at the front are really fast, and a lot of them race on bigger bikes in other classes. I definitely did not think that I would keep up with them, and miraculously, I managed to.
“It was really cool pulling up to the podium, and I got lots of hugs, and I was just so excited, and it was a really cool end to the weekend.”
Wintle’s success comes only 12 months after she first raced at Manfeild in December 2022, finishing second in the Suzuki Gixxer 150 Cup for the meeting. The win was also a first for a woman in the class.
Wintle will return to Manfeild this weekend for the second round of the Suzuki International series before the long-held ambition of racing on the iconic Whanganui Cemetery Circuit.
“It’s always been a bucket list thing. Both my dad and stepdad have raced Whanganui, and we spent most of our Boxing Days there and it will be awesome.”
She will then head to the South Island to compete in the rest of the New Zealand Championships.
Wintle is third equal with Blain Pairama in the Suzuki Gixxer 150 Cup on 46 points, behind Finlay on 61 and Joseph Stroud on 58.
Wintle wasn’t the only family member to taste success at Taupō. Stepfather and five-time national champion ‘Spike’ Taylor combined with Auckland swinger Kendal Dunlop for a third, first and second in the Supercars Formula One Championship.