When the going gets tough, men like Wellington’s Rory Mead get going.
Now he’s officially one of the world’s Tough Ones.
The New Zealand enduro champion rode his two-stroke Yamaha YZ250 to fourth outright in his debut appearance at the annual Tough One extreme enduro event in Wales at the weekend, beating most of the cream of the world’s elite enduro stars in the process.
The race was won by Isle of Man legend David Knight, with British pair Tom Sager and Dougy Lampkin taking second and third spots respectively.
“I really enjoyed this event,” said the 23-year-old Mead.
“There were so many big name riders at the event and I was a little in awe of them,” said Mead, a relative novice at these extreme events, having competed in and surprisingly winning his first one, the Red Bull City Scramble in downtown Auckland, only last year.
“I qualified fifth and then got a decent start and managed to avoid getting caught in the bottleneck of riders.
“With half an hour to go, I was a good minute or so behind Lampkin but I was catching him quickly, gaining about 15 seconds a lap on him. If there had been an extra lap in the race I might have snatched a podium finish.
“I’m naturally thrilled with the result and to finish only 10 seconds behind someone the status of seven-time world trials champion Dougy Lampkin is a great achievement. This result alone made the whole trip worthwhile.”
Mead had just missed out on qualifying for the Hell’s Gate extreme enduro in Italy a week earlier.
The only other Kiwi competing at the Tough One event at the weekend, Aucklander Chris Birch, failed to finish.
“Chris struck some bad luck, I think,” said Mead. “He had a rope caught around his rear wheel during the ‘hot lap’, then had his chain come off in the main race.”
Mead will remain overseas and compete in another major event before returning to the New Zealand enduro scene in a fortnight.
“I will stay on here to compete in the first round of the British Enduro Championships this coming weekend, somewhere out towards Cambridge.
“I have spent two months here so far and enjoyed every minute of it. The snow and cold weather has slowed things down a bit but the experience I have gained from being here is priceless.
“I will head back to do the Erzberg race (in Austria) and the Romaniacs (in Romania) in June, with plans to do a few World Enduro Championship rounds in between.
“I also have the Australian Four-Day Enduro coming up in April and I will be heading across the Tasman to do that as well.”
Mead won his first New Zealand enduro championship title in the nationals last season but his recent forays overseas mean he has missed the first two rounds of this year’s series and that also means the defence of his domestic title is impossible.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com