Auckland’s Karl Power will be looking to consolidate his position at the top of the national enduro standings when he races in Hawke’s Bay this weekend.
The Honda rider is leading the way in the chase for outright honours in this year’s Yamaha New Zealand Enduro Championships and will attempt to keep it all on track at the fourth round of five in the series at Akitio, on the Central Hawke’s Bay coastline, on Sunday.
Fellow Aucklander Chris Birch (KTM) was unstoppable at round three in the Riverhead Forest, near Auckland, a fortnight ago, and Whangamata’s Jason Davis (KTM) won the round prior to that, at Whangamata in February, but Power has been the one constant in the equation.
Power has consistently challenged for the overall win at all three rounds thus far and he has managed to build a narrow two-point lead over Davis at the top of the expert class standings.
Power finished third in the expert grade at round one, was placed second at round two and was runner-up again at round three. He leads the experts under-300cc four-stroke class by 13 points from Te Puke Honda rider Phil Singleton.
Despite being absent from round two because of overseas racing commitments, former champion Birch is third in the experts grade and 2008 champion Cam Smith (Suzuki), of Marton, is currently fourth.
Napier brothers John and Lance O’Dea (Suzuki), Hokianga brothers Mitchell and Damon Nield (Husqvarna), Waihi Beach’s Chris Power (Honda), Tauranga’s Reece Burgess (KTM), Titirangi’s Callan May (Yamaha), Stratford’s Karl Roberts (Yamaha), Waipukurau’s Mark Fleming (Suzuki) and Mokau’s Adrian Smith (Yamaha) should also feature.
In addition, defending champion Rory Mead (Yamaha), is likely to feature near the front at Akitio on Sunday.
Mead has been in the country to contest just one round so far this season as international glory beckons him away, clearly making his title defence impossible, but that won’t stop him from chasing the win on Sunday.
“The course features scrub, open farm land, rivers, creeks, pines, tight stuff, fresh pine needles tests, bulldozed tracks, rocks, boulders, steep hills, logs, ocean, sand, hill climbs … everything needed to run a wicked event,” said event organiser Jono Kight.
“I have made the special tests twice or three times as long as last year and the times won’t be as ‘relaxed’ as last year.
“Accommodation is available at the Akitio camping ground and community centre by the beach. Akitio is about 50-minutes’ drive from Dannevirke and will be signposted from the town.
“There will be no pre-walking the tests, just the same as last year, to make it fair for everyone.”
The final round of the series is set for Taupo on June 5.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com