And he has the bike and talent to match.
The 29-year-old Taupo locksmith was one of just two individuals to tackle more than one class at the just-completed 2020 New Zealand Motocross Championships and it didn’t seem to slow him down at all.
In fact, despite being entered in twice as many races as any other rider in the premier MX1 class, Groombridge still managed a magnificent top-six result at the end of the four-round series.
It could have been so much better for the Kea Trailers-sponsored Suzuki RM-Z450 rider if it hadn’t been for a small element of bad luck, a factor well beyond his control, with his bike suffering a flat tyre in the opening MX1 race at the final round in Taupo last weekend.
“I had to stop and change the tyre, which left me a hopelessly long way behind,” Groombridge explained. “I managed to get back to 19th, which was worth only two points, but that ruined my chances of finishing fifth for the championship. I had been fifth overall in the standings and with a good points buffer over sixth, but the flat tyre wiped that out.
“It was very tough class, with the top two guys at least being full-time professionals. I work 9am until 5pm, five days a week, and I don’t get much time left to myself to do training. It was hard too with the recent dry weather meaning there were not many places where it was okay to ride.”
Perhaps a glutton for punishment or simply a dirt-biking workaholic, Groombridge also raced his Suzuki RM-Z250 bike in the MX2 (250cc) class this year, settling this time for 10th overall in what would arguably have been the toughest MX2 championship class in many years.
Bejewelled with Kiwi internationals and top racers from Australia too, this season’s MX2 class was a virtual “Who’s Who” of South Pacific talent, the depth of quality so great that any one of a dozen riders could have been expected to win races.
Groombridge achieved his ranking among the nation’s top 10 MX2 riders despite skipping two races at round three of the series at Fernhill, near Hastings.
“I had a few problems at Fernhill. The skin on my hands was rubbed raw, so I opted to sit out two of the day’s three MX2 races, figuring I could jump a couple of positions when racing at the final round at Taupo, my home track,” he explained.
“But then had two crashes early on and then jammed by foot on a trackside sprinkler at Taupo and that all slowed me down a bit.
“I’m pretty satisfied with my rankings this year. I finished top-10, so I can’t complain. I raced two different classes at the motocross nationals because I was using this as a build-up for the (separate) enduro and cross-country nationals. It all helped me build my fitness.”
Groombridge was New Zealand enduro champion twice, in 2016 and again in 2018, and he also three-times consecutively won the New Zealand Cross-country Championships (in 2016, 2017 and 2018), so he is obviously a versatile and multi-talented rider.
But this says a great deal about his bikes too.
Groombridge will ride exactly the same RM-Z450 bike in the enduro and cross-country events that he raced at the motocross nationals, perhaps the only alteration being to fit a larger fuel tank or change the tyres.
“The bikes I race are standard, unmodified machines and they’re super reliable. I can’t thank Suzuki enough for all the support they’ve given me,” he added.
For the record, Auckland teenager Cobie Bourke (KTM) was the other rider entered in two separate categories this year, the teenager racing in both the MX2 and 125cc classes.
He finished the championships ninth overall in the MX2 class, one place ahead of Groombridge, and third overall in the 125cc class, a category that predominantly features riders aged under 19.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
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