A combination of icy grass, deep ruts and high speed should make for some very close and exciting dirt bike racing near Turangi this weekend.
With no jumps to slow them down, the motorcycle racers — including the stars of motocross, cross-country, enduro and even road-racing, ATV and super motard — will hit eye-watering speeds as they chase glory at the 11th annual New Zealand TT Championships at Kuratau, at the south-western tip of Lake Taupo, on Saturday and Sunday.
Expect top motocross racers such as Cambridge’s multi-time national motocross champion Damien King (Yamaha), Taupo’s Brad Groombridge (Suzuki), Pukekohe’s Craig Brown (Kawasaki), Taupo’s Scott Moir (KTM) and Auckland super motard ace Toby Summers (Yamaha) to be among those battling for the top honours at the Bike Torque-sponsored event.
King entered three of the senior classes at the event last season, winning them all, but he said he is still uncertain whether he would return to defend those titles this weekend, perhaps leaving the way clear for others to shine.
The ATV (quad bike) racers also share the weekend’s programme with leading contenders such as Taumarunui’s Quentin Palmer (Suzuki) (pictured above), Amberley’s Ian Ffitch (Honda) and Rotorua’s Jason Jepson (Yamaha) expected to battle for the wins.
Palmer has been virtually untouchable at this event in recent years and has his fingers crossed that he can continue to dominate.
Palmer stormed to an unbeaten string of five wins over the two days last year, despite suffering from the flu.
“I was worried I wouldn’t be able to perform … but there I was on top of the podium,” smiled the Taumarunui shepherd.
That was the third consecutive year that Palmer had won the premier open class title. He had also previously raced, and won, in the 400cc class.
Palmer said racing his ATV bike was very much like “another day at the office” for him, albeit a little more frenetic.
“Yes, I work on farmland just like this every day of the week,” he laughed.
There is racing this weekend in the women’s, juniors’ and veterans’ categories as well.
Organised by the Taumaranui Motorcycle Club, the venue is just off State Highway 41, and will be signposted from the Kuratau Junction, S.H. 41 and 32.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com