It was Action Suzuki all the way at the big annual Leatt Four-Hour Cross-country race at Taupo on Saturday.
The owner of the Action Suzuki dealership in Hawera, multi-time former national motocross and supercross champion Daryl Hurley, teamed with one of his shop staff members, New Zealand Motocross of Nations team rider Brad Groombridge, to run away with the high-profile off-road marathon on Saturday, the two motocross riders humbling many of the country’s elite cross-country and enduro riders.
Sharing the riding duties on a Suzuki RMX450 straight off the showroom floor, Groombridge and Hurley finished the gruelling race ahead of Auckland cousins Chris and Karl Power (Honda CRF450), with former national enduro champions Rory Mead, of Whitby, and Adrian Smith, of Mokau, co-riding a Yamaha YZ250F to claim the third spot on the podium.
“For me it was all a part of my build-up for the Motocross of Nations (in Colorado is a little over four weeks’ time), just to give me plenty of bike time and strengthen me up … it was a total bonus to win the race, and to do it so comfortably too,” said the 20-year-old Groombridge.
“We just took a Suzuki off the showroom floor. It was stock standard except that we put a larger after-market fuel tank on it. This meant we could do two laps between each refuel. I ran out of gas at this event when I was leading last year and I didn’t want that to happen again.
“I rode the bike first and it started after two kicks, but that meant I was down in about 50th place as I left the line. I had moved up to 10th place after the first two kilometres and just settled into a rhythm.
“I was up to second place by the end of my two-lap stint. Daryl crashed the bike soon after taking it over from me and that cost us some time but we were still in the hunt.
“I made up a bit of ground when it was my turn to ride again and Daryl rode the final two laps and he grabbed the lead for us.
“It was a good work-out for me and great to see Daryl is back on the pace too (after he crashed out of the motocross nationals last season).”
Meanwhile, Te Awamutu’s Mark Penny rode the event solo, coming home an incredible sixth overall, to claim the ironman honours.
The 36-year-old, sales manager at Wilksbrooke Motors in Te Awamutu, only discovered at the last minute that his planned team-mate would not be able to participate because of health issues, but Penny decided to race regardless.
“I was feeling very, very tired after the first couple of laps but I decided to push on and I’m glad I did, winning the ironman title.
“It’s the old story I guess: Winners don’t quit and quitters don’t win.”
Another Taranaki rider, Tony Parker (KTM 450SX), had been leading the ironman section until the final laps when Penny passed him. Parker settled for seventh overall (second ironman).
Parker is the current Middle East/Bahrain Motocross champion and, in just the past few months, he repatriated back to Taranaki.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com