The seventh annual running of the Dirt Guide Cross-country Series kicks off at Tar Hill, just south of Tokoroa, this weekend (May 31) and the popular three-round competition presents as an ideal opportunity for novice or first-time racers to become initiated in the sport.
In addition, the multi-layered series offers serious racing for the more accomplished off-road exponents too, where entries are expected from elite riders such as recently re-crowned four-time national cross-country champion Adrian Smith (Yamaha), of Mokau, Auckland’s Chris Power (Yamaha), Whangamata’s Jason Davis (KTM) and Morrinsville’s Simon Lansdaal (Husqvarna), to name a few.
Tauranga’s Reece Burgess (KTM) had led the 2013 edition of the series after the first two of three rounds, but his campaign came to grief at the final round.
Disaster struck for Burgess with just two laps to go. Burgess had been running in second place with he suffered a puncture. He tried to battle on to the end, but, on the last lap, the tyre completely destroyed itself and came off the rim. This dropped him back to 27th overall and eighth in class, which was not enough for him to take the title.
The overall series win instead was shared by Titirangi’s Callan May (Yamaha) and Taupo’s Greg De Lautour (KTM).
De Lautour’s score-line for the 2013 series was 8-2-3, while May’s score-line was 4-6-2, meaning they accumulated identical points (55). Burgess finished 3-1-27 to earn 45 points.
The Dirt Guide series is a popular stand-alone series, separate from the nationals, and a perfect preparation for Kiwis wishing to head on to greater things.
Callan May is an example of a rider who has done just that. He is overseas this season, regularly finishing among the leaders in the prestigious Grand National Cross-country Championship series in the United States, so he obviously won’t be among the starters at Tar Hill on Saturday.
Putaruru’s Ryan Scherer won the intermediate grade in the Dirt Guide series last season, his second consecutive outright win in the grade, with Carterton’s Luke Fisher second and Bennydale’s Duncan McLaren rounding out the top three.
In the junior division, Auckland’s Jake Wightman made a clean sweep of the 2013 series, while Oparau’s James Scott fought back from a bad start to take third overall on the day but second place for the series.
There is something for everyone in the Dirt Guide series, starting with the mini bike riders in the morning, right through to the main race for seniors in the afternoon.
“The main senior race starts at 12.30pm and this features a 20-kilometre loop in the forest and is suitable for anyone over the age of 15 … as long as they have a reliable dirt bike and appropriate riding gear,” said organiser Sean Clarke, a former International Six Days Enduro medal winner and multi-time former national enduro champion.
Activity continues the next day, too, with a trail ride planned for Sunday at the same venue.
As in previous years, no Motorcycling New Zealand licence is required to race in the Dirt Guide series.
The day kicks off at 9.30am with the 7-11 years’ mini riders and the 12-16 years’ juniors.
The minis’ track is right next to the event home base and so is great for kids to have a go in a cross-country race but not venture too far away from the protection and guidance of mum and dad.
The juniors race on a 10-kilometre loop, a shorter section of the 20-kilometre senior track that will be used in the afternoon.
The senior race starts at 12.30pm, with the Expert grade starting first and the Intermediate grade set off on their race about 30 seconds later.
“If you don’t feel like racing, there is always the trail ride the next day. The main loop for the trail ride is about 35 kilometres and there are shorter loops and a kids’ track, so if you are looking for a great race or trail ride come along and have a go.”
Round two of the series is set for Ohakuri, also just south of Tokoroa, on June 28, with the third and final round also at Ohakuri, on July 26. In each case, the trail ride will be run the following day.
The series is sponsored by Michelin, Bey Ray, Renthal, O’Neal, Troy Lee Designs, DRC, Zeta, Kiwi Rider magazine, TCX boots, Yoshimura and Suomy helmets.
Dirt Guide Cross-country Championships 2014:
Round one: May 31-June 1, Tar Hill, south of Tokoroa
Round two: June 28-29, Ohakuri, south of Tokoroa
Round three: July 26-27, Ohakuri, south of Tokoroa
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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