Bay of Plenty motorcycling ace Brad Groombridge will be chasing an incredible sixth outright victory when he lines up to tackle the popular annual Acerbis Four-Hour cross-country dirt bike race near Taupo this weekend.
The Suzuki man from Taupo is clearly the pre-race favourite and his chances of making it win No.6 – what you could call a “dirty half dozen” – look extremely likely, even as he again intends to race it solo, pitted against dozens of talented two-rider entries.
Groombridge (Kea Trailers Suzuki Racing Team) hasn’t been resting on his laurels since last season’s four-hour race win – he won the annual Scott Six-Hour race at Matata in March and he raced his Suzuki RM-Z250 to finish overall runner-up in the MX2 class at the four-round 2018 New Zealand Motocross Championships, which wrapped up in March.
Then he finished third overall in the enduro class at the New Zealand TT Champs in May (riding a 2013-model Suzuki DR650 “adventure bike” that he borrowed from a friend); then he hopped back on his Suzuki RM-Z450 to win the four-round New Zealand Cross-country Championships and, after that, he took a Suzuki RM-Z250 to win the five-round New Zealand Enduro Championships.
Even the word “exhausting” doesn’t do justice to all of that.
The Suzuki rider’s history with the Suzuki-sponsored Acerbis Four-Hour is quite remarkable, but he won’t be taking anything for granted in Saturday’s big race.
He is a record five-time outright winner of the marathon dirt bike race, an incredible four times now as a solo (ironman) rider, but the 28-year-old Groombridge knows better than most how difficult it is to win, especially after last year’s tight affair.
There were just 23 seconds between Groombridge and runner-up Paul Whibley (Manawatu) at the chequered flag last year, while the two-rider Rotorua combination of Barry Morris and Cam Negus, finished third, 15 minutes further back.
“It’s an entirely different race to do as a solo rider,” said Groombridge.
“I have not been riding a lot lately, just practising on private tracks and trail riding. But the break has been good for me.
“I hope to extend my winning record at the Acerbis Four-Hour … that’s the plan anyway. It’s not really part of my build-up before the 2019 enduro or cross-country nationals, because there’s still a bit of time before those two series start, but any time I can spend on the bike has got to be good for me.”
The 90-minute Motomuck Junior 90 race is again the “curtain-raiser” to Saturday’s main race and that was won last year by Cambridge rider Seton Head, Groombridge’s new Kea Trailers Suzuki team-mate.
It’s interesting to note that the multi-talented Groombridge raced his RM-Z250 at Labour Weekend’s annual MX Fest motocross event in Taupo and there he finished third overall in the MX2 class.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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