It has been an astounding year for Taranaki motorcycle racer Adrian Smith.
In addition to finishing a remarkable third overall in the four-round New Zealand Cross-country Championships, which wrapped up near Christchurch last month, the 24-year-old man from Mokau also finished third overall in the New Zealand Enduro Championships, which wound up with the fifth and final round near Taupo on Saturday.
You might be forgiven for thinking there’s nothing too remarkable in achieving two third placings, but, when you realise Smith was riding a 125cc bike against the 250cc, 300cc and 450cc bikes of most of his rivals and also consider that Smith did not race at every round in either series, it shines a very bright spotlight on his accomplishments.
An injured right wrist forced him to skip one round of the enduro series but he battled his way to seventh, fifth, second and third overall at the four rounds that he did show up for.
Despite his abbreviated campaign, Smith also finished first in the race-within-a-race for bike category honours, winning the under-200cc two-stroke class title ahead of Napier’s Lance O’Dea (Suzuki) and Hokianga’s Damon Nield (Husqvarna).
“I wasn’t leading my class at the start of today,” said Smith. “But I pinched it away from Lance (O’Dea) when I came home ahead of him as first under-200cc rider at Taupo.
“It’s capped off a good year for me. This bike is just so light and nimble … it’s easy to throw around in among the trees and there’s still plenty of power to get the job done.”
Smith hopes he can stage another giant-killing act when he takes his Yamaha YZ125 to tackle the popular Tarawera 100 cross-country endurance event, a 160-kilometre race through farmland and forestry near Kawerau next month.
“Then I will be heading off to the International Six Days Enduro in Mexico at the end of the year.”
Meanwhile, nobody had an answer for Whitby’s Rory Mead on Saturday as he romped to victory on the forest course just north of Wairakei Village.
Mead (Yamaha YZ250F) was in scintillating form on the sandy Tahorakuri Forest course, edging out eventual title winner Jason Davis (KTM 300), of Whangamata, and Taranaki’s Smith at the end of a very solid day of high-speed racing through the trees.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com