It’s anybody’s race to win at Whangamata this weekend.
Auckland’s Chris Birch (KTM) won the opening round of the 2010 Yamaha New Zealand Enduro Championships at Kawhia a fortnight ago, but both he and the defending national champion, Whitby’s Rory Mead (Yamaha), are overseas with international racing commitments this weekend, leaving it wide open for round two of the nationals near Whangamata on Saturday.
The five-round national series always attracts the cream of New Zealand’s dirt biking talent and, even without Birch and Mead, the line-up for this weekend is again expected to read like a motorcycling Who’s Who.
Mokau’s Adrian Smith (Yamaha), in hot form after winning the inaugural Te Puke Endurocross last weekend, looks ready to fill the void, as do Whangamata’s Jason Davis, Auckland cousins Karl and Chris Power (Honda) and Napier’s John O’Dea (Suzuki).
KTM’s Davis was runner-up to Birch at the series opener at Kawhia and, being on home terrain, could be favoured to win on Saturday.
Tokoroa’s Sean Clarke and the Neild brothers, Mitchell and Damon, from Hokianga, are also likely to be among the leading riders at Whangamata on Saturday.
Event organiser Shaun Prescott said the course is “in a pine forest, which is clay with a rock base and is very steep in places with river crossings, ruts, logs, rocks, all the things which make enduros great”.
He said is has not rained lately, so mud should not be an issue.
“Ross Davis has put in about 15 kilometres of new track and Lester Yates and his team have spent a lot of hours slashing existing tracks so the course is in very good condition,” said Prescott.
“Experts will have about 160 kilometres of riding with seven terrain tests and the intermediates will have about 125km to cover. Juniors and senior novice riders are also catered for.
“Sign on is starting at 8am with the first rider out at 10am.
“We have prize giving and trophies for all senior classes after the event with the Davis Logging overall senior expert trophy up for grabs (currently held by Jason Davis).”
The event also doubles as round two of the Northern Top Trail Rider (TTR) Enduro series.
Round three of the national series is set for the Riverhead Forest, near Auckland, on March 7.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com