A combination of icy grass, deep ruts and high speed should make for some very close and exciting dirt bike racing near the sleepy lakeside tourist town of Turangi this weekend.
With no jumps to slow them down, the motorcycle racers — including the stars of motocross, cross-country, enduro and even road-racing, ATV and super motard — will hit eye-watering speeds as they chase glory at the 10th annual New Zealand TT Championships at Kuratau, at the south-western tip of Lake Taupo, on Saturday and Sunday.
Expect top motocross racers such as Cambridge’s two-class national motocross champion Damien King (Yamaha), Taupo’s Brad Groombridge (Suzuki) Taranaki’s Greg Ngeru (Honda), Taupo’s Rodney Tomblin (Honda) and Auckland super motard ace Toby Summers (Yamaha) to be among those battling for the top honours at the Bike Torque Yamaha-sponsored event.
The ATV racers also share the weekend’s programme with leading riders such as Taumarunui pair Quentin Palmer (Suzuki) (pictured above) and Roger Macdonald (Yamaha), Amberley’s Ian Ffitch (Honda) and Rotorua’s Jason Jepson (Yamaha) expected to battle for the wins.
The junior action should see racers such as Taupo’s Cameron Dillon (Honda), Mangakino’s Kayne Lamont (Yamaha) and Tauranga’s Logan Blackburn (Yamaha), to name just a few, racing at the front.
Former GP rider King took his Yamaha YZ250F to the top of the under-300cc four-stroke class last year and he also took a 540cc version of that bike to finish runner-up in the open class, missing out on the top step of the podium by just five points from sensational Taupo teenager Groombridge.
King finished no worse than third last year, beaten to the flag in the weekend’s first open class race only by eventual title winner Groombridge and by Wellington’s Jayden Jessup (Yamaha).
Organised by the Taumaranui Motorcycle Club, the venue is just off State Highway 41, and will be signposted from the Kuratau Junction, S.H. 41 and 32.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com