Exciting dirt bike race action comes thick and fast again this summer, starting with round one of two separate series, the North Island and South Island Cross-Country Championships, both of which off this weekend.
The two parallel five-round Suzuki-sponsored series kick off on Sunday at Waipu Caves in the north and near Mosgiel in the south.
With riders able to discard their one worst result, it means only four rounds count towards the championship in each series.
“The sport is really booming at the moment,” said Motorcycling New Zealand cross-country commissioner Murray Searle, of Palmerston North.
“We’ve not had an event of this stature north of Auckland for so many years, we thought it would be good to attract some new faces. We are really working towards encouraging new, young riders to give it a go.
“Looking at the international successes of top New Zealand riders such as Pahiatua’s Paul Whibley, many young riders are inspired to take up cross-country racing and we want to give them a safe, fun and yet challenging environment to do just that.”
“For the first time this season we have special category for three-rider junior teams to enter, just as we have in the past and continue to do with the seniors. This helps promote a bit of a team atmosphere too.”
And while novice or first-time entrants are encouraged, most eyes will no doubt focus on how the elite riders fare.
Prime candidates to win include Pahiatua’s national cross-country champion Adam Reeves (Yamaha), top enduro riders Karl and Chris Power (Honda), of Auckland, Napier brothers John and Lance O’Dea (Suzuki), Te Kauwhata’s Jason Moorfield (Kawasaki), Auckland’s Luke Ramsey (Kawasaki), Hokianga brothers Mitchell and Damon Nield (Husqvarna) and Marton’s former national champion Cam Smith (Suzuki) to name a few.
In the South Island, top riders likely to feature include Christchurch riders Hayden McKay (Honda) and Glen Manning (KTM), Dunedin’s Jol Hennessy (Yamaha), Ashburton’s Brodie McPherson (Kawasaki) and Invercargill’s Kylie Dorr (Suzuki).
In addition to Suzuki New Zealand, both series are supported by DRD magazine and Hydraulink Fluid Connectors.
The Nield family, in conjunction with the Northern Dirtbike Club, said they were proud to finally be able to bring a round of the North Island Cross Country Championships to Northland.
“Not since 1992 has there been a national cross-country event held north of Auckland and we are privileged to have access to Gary Sands’ farm at Waipu Caves,” said organiser Kiri Nield.
“Camping is allowed on the farm, portaloos will be there, but riders will need to bring their own water,” she said.
There is also a DOC camp ground at Waipu Caves itself and another at Ruakaka. Other motel or bach accommodation is available at Waipu and Ruakaka, both of which are within half an hour of the event. Also at Whangarei which is about 45 minutes north of the event.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com