New Zealand is set to lose what some in the motorcycling community might call a “national treasure”.
Aucklander Chris Birch, and his wife Monica, are shortly to leave New Zealand to build a home for themselves in South Africa.
The multi-time New Zealand enduro champion (five times the outright winner) and winner of key extreme international endurance events in Europe and Africa, Birch said he had received “an offer that was simply too good to refuse”.
The 30-year-old Birch won his third consecutive Roof of Africa extreme endurance race in Lesotho in November last year and is a very popular rider on the African Continent.
The former trials riders has also won the overall at the 2010 Red Bull Romaniacs Extreme Enduro in Romania and also won his E3 class at the Hell’s Gate Extreme Enduro in Italy last year.
Over the years, he has also raced with success at the notorious Erzberg Extreme Enduro in Austria, and also in England, Wales, Spain, Poland, Germany, Australia, Brazil and Greece.
Birch will now be based in Durban and ride for the Alfie Cox KTM shop in the city.
“I will have to give up my New Zealand licence but I will always be a Kiwi. Put it this way, I’m not going to learn Afrikaans or anything.
“I have only really been home for three days this year, so it’s not like I’m in New Zealand much these days anyway.
“Nothing is 100% organised yet but we leave just over a week after the next round of the New Zealand Enduro Championships at Operau (near Kawhia, on January 30). That will be my last race in New Zealand for a while.
“I would like to win that … it would be nice to sign off in New Zealand with a victory, but Oparau has not been too kind to me in the past, so I’m not expecting too much.”
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com