There’s no time for the nation’s elite cross-country motorcycle racers even to catch their breath this season.
The four-round Suzuki National Cross-country Championships kicked off near Waipukurau last weekend – with defending champion Adam Reeves, of Pahiatua, the top man on the day – and round two comes just six days later, on farmland just outside Nelson this Saturday afternoon.
The 27-year-old Reeves (Yamaha YZ450F) didn’t win easily in Hawke’s Bay last weekend, with a little bad luck striking two of his main championship rivals, and those riders will be foremost among the many who will be out to challenge Reeves near Nelson on Saturday.
Waitakere’s Shaun Fogarty (KTM 450 EXC) struck mechanical problems while leading the race in Hawke’s Bay and was forced to withdraw. Then the young man who took over the lead from him, Pukekohe’s Luke Ramsey (Kawasaki KX250F) (pictured above), also dropped to the wayside, the victim of a bone-crunching crash.
Fortunately the suspected broken leg suffered by Ramsey was just that — a mere suspicion — and he will shake off the pain of his badly bruised leg to line up again this Saturday. Ramsey was the national under-200cc class cross-country champion last season and has proven to be more than capable of winning the series outright now that he’s stepped up to the 250cc machine.
Auckland’s Sam Greenslade (Suzuki RM-Z250) finished runner-up to Reeves last weekend , with Huntly’s Michael Vining (Suzuki RM-Z450), Napier’s John O’Dea (Suzuki RM-X450) and Tauranga’s Scott Barr-Smith (KTM 200 EXC) rounding out the top five, and these men will likely be among the leaders in the South Island this weekend too.
Kiwi internationals Rory Mead, of Whitby, and Adrian Smith, of Mokau, have returned from racing overseas and they are also expected to be in the mix on Saturday.
Reeves may be leading the way for national cross-country honours but riders are able to discard their worst round result, meaning it is still quite possible even for round one absentees Mead and Smith to challenge for Reeve’s title.
The series is sponsored by Suzuki, DRD magazine, Hydraulink fluid connectors.
Calendar for the 2010 Suzuki New Zealand 3-Hour Cross Country Series.
(Three out of 4 count for series result)
Round 1, Sunday April 11, Waipukurau.
Round 2, Saturday, April 17, Nelson.
Round 3, Saturday, May 1, Wellington.
Round 4, Saturday, May 15, Christchurch.
Riders must contest the final round to be eligible for the New Zealand Championship.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com