There were four Kiwis inside the top 11 when this year’s Yamaha Australian Four Day Enduro (A4DE) wrapped up in Portland, New South Wales, at the weekend.
Expat Kiwi Stefan Merriman (Yamaha), Whangamata’s Jason Davis (KTM) (pictured above), Whitby’s Rory Mead (Yamaha) and Mokau’s Adrian Smith (Yamaha) finished the gruelling event ranked second, eighth, 10th and 11th respectively, but KTM’s Toby Price won both the event outright and E2 class as well.
Other Kiwis featuring well in the placings were Waihi Beach’s Chris Power (Suzuki), in 22nd spot, his cousin Karl Power (KTM), of Auckland, in 30th place. Wanganui’s Wayne Neilson (Yamaha), Taranaki’s Larry Blair (KTM) and Tokoroa’s Sean Clarke (Yamaha) finished 58th, 59th and 60th overall respectively, while South Waikato’s Mark Newton (Suzuki) finished 129th, Te Puke’s Murray Jensen (Honda) placed 135th overall and Atiamuri’s Duncan McLaren (Yamaha) wound up 203rd out of the 261 competitors.
Price put on a dominant performance in Sunday’s final moto to win the event from five-time enduro world champion Merriman. In third place outright was last year’s winner, Motorex KTM’s Jarrod Bewley, who also won this year’s E1 class.
“I’m really stoked to win here, especially with Stefan Merriman on my tail, last year I played the bridesmaid and now I have finally done it,” Price said afterwards.
“I now have my sights set on heading to Portugal for a round of the World Enduro Championships, and then the rest of the Australian Off-Road Championship.”
Pro E1 class winner Bewley said: “I felt over the whole four days I put in a solid effort.
“I led the E1 class for most days, and only had some pressure from a young guy who was keeping me honest.
“The terrain ended up being perfect for me, after a good amount of rain leading up to the event. It was a bit sloppy with mud on day one, but in general the conditions were really good.
“This is my first E1 class win, I rode a 450 last year and claimed the E2 and outright, and I switched classes and bikes this year to race the KTM 250 EXC F in the E1 class, and claimed the win, so I’m really happy with these results.
“In my racing career I have now won in all classes when combining both the A4DE, and National Off-Road Championship. I won the E3 class of the National Off-Road Champs in 2007, the E2 class of the A4DE in 2009, and now the E1 class of the A4DE in 2010. It’s really rewarding to tick all these boxes.”
It was a successful A4DE for the Motorex KTM outfit, with Ben Grabham winning the E3 class following a classic battle with Husaberg-mounted Geoff Braico in the final moto, and Motorex KTM team manager, Brad Williscroft, winning the veterans’ class.
“My main goal was to win the E3 class and I achieved that goal for both myself and KTM, said Grabham.
“I had a really consistent four days, and I didn’t crash at all. I haven’t ridden the KTM 530 EXC in this event before, and I was probably higher up outright than I thought I’d be, especially since I was just really focused on the class win.
“The bike was awesome, I didn’t have to do anything to it other than change my tyres, and they also were great in the conditions.
“It started out muddy at the beginning of the race, and we had minimal dust. You don’t usually get a final moto that’s not dusty, so in all seriousness this was probably one of the best four days I’ve ever done, and I’ve done a lot.
“I started riding in the A4DE when I was sixteen years old, so this was my 13th A4DE. Over the years I’ve claimed five class wins, two outright wins and this year I claimed my sixth class win.
“The last time I was on the podium at the A4DE was in 2003, so talk about never say die!”
Heading into the final moto of the Women’s class with a half second lead over Jessica Gardiner (Ballard’s Wellard Yamaha), Jemma Wilson (Yamaha) grabbed the holeshot and the lead early, only to suffer a heartbreaking crash to surrender the moto, and the A4DE class win to the hard-charging 16-year-old.
In a hotly contested Masters class, enduro legend Geoff Ballard held a slim lead over David Cash heading into the last test, which he worked hard to protect, keeping the persistent Cash at bay throughout the moto.
Leading finishers in this year’s Yamaha A4DE (provisional):
1. Toby Price E2 (Motorex KTM)
2. Stefan Merriman E2 (Ballard’s Wellard Yamaha)
3. Jarrod Bewley E1 (Motorex KTM)
4. Daniel Milner E2 (Suzuki)
5. Ben Grabham E3 (Motorex KTM)
6. Kirk Hutton E2 (Yamaha Australia)
7. Matthew Phillips E1 (Honda)
8. Jason Davis E2 (Coastal Pacific Ink KTM)
9. Geoff Braico E3 (Sutto’s Husaberg Team)
10. Rory Mead E2 (Yamaha NZ)
11. Adrian Smith E1 (Yamaha NZ)
E1 – Jarrod Bewley (Motorex KTM); Matthew Phillips (Honda); Adrian Smith (Yamaha).
E2 – Stefan Merriman (Ballard’s Wellard Yamaha); Toby Price (Motorex KTM); Daniel Milner (Suzuki).
E3 – Ben Grabham (Motorex KTM); Geoff Braico (Sutto’s Husaberg Racing); Mitcham Harper (KTM).
Veterans – Brad Williscroft (Motorex KTM); Rohan Crouch (Honda); Jason Cater (Yamaha).
© Photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com