Racing is expected to go right down to the wire when the popular Dirt Guide Cross-Country Championships wrap up near Atiamuri this weekend.
Series organiser Sean Clarke has seen an incredible level of interest shown in his fledgling series, with more than 130 riders accepting the challenge to race at each of the three rounds thus far.
The fourth and final round is at a venue called The Pylons, near Atiamuri, about 30 kilometres south of Tokoroa, up the Tirohanga Road, on Saturday.
Top Kiwi internationals are expected to bash handlebars on Saturday, including former national champion and international extreme enduro ace Chris Birch (KTM), from Auckland. Birch will likely come under fire from the Whitby man who took the national enduro crown earlier this season, Yamaha ace Rory Mead.
Tauranga’s Reece Burgess leads the senior division after three rounds, but he has Auckland KTM rider Karl Power for close company. It could come down to a straight battle between these two men to decide the outright title.
Also expect Paengaroa’s Phil Singleton (Honda CRF250), Atiamuri’s Duncan McLaren (Yamaha) and Auckland pair Sam Greenslade (Gas Gas) and Caleb van Dragt (KTM) to be among the frontrunners.
Jointly sponsored by Dirt Guide and Kiwi Rider magazine, this year’s series has used some of the same terrain that was raced over by the word’s best when the region hosted the International Six Days Enduro in 2006.
“But that doesn’t seem to have discouraged anyone from giving it a go. This series is actually aimed at introducing novice and first-timers just as much as it has been good racing for the expert riders,” said Clarke.
He said he formed the series last year just to give junior and first-time riders a go at the sport of cross-country riding and the popularity of his series has proven he’s onto a winning thing.
With a course that’s 10 kilometres for junior riders and about twice that for the seniors, it’s sure to be a lot of fun, not to mention the fact that it should also be a challenge.
The race should take about 90 minutes for the juniors and closer to two hours for the senior riders.
The course will also be opened up on Sunday for those keen to go for a casual trail ride. The draw for a prize of a Yamaha TTR110, donated by Yamaha New Zealand, will be made at the trail ride on Sunday.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com