There were big changes at the top of the standings after round two of the North Island Cross-country Championships at Whangaruru, north of Whangarei, on Sunday.
National enduro championship leader Rory Mead (Yamaha YZ450F), of Taupo, won the gruelling three-hour race, finishing four minutes ahead of fellow Yamaha ace Adam Reeves (YZ450F), of Palmerston North, and eight minutes ahead of the third-placed man, Taranaki’s Adrian Smith (Yamaha YZ250F).
Third place was good enough for Smith to take over the Suzuki-sponsored series lead from round-one winner Michael Vining (KTM), of Huntly. Vining was credited with a lowly 42nd place finish on Sunday, withdrawing two laps from the end. Despite that disaster, Vining still leads the over-300cc four-stroke class, now just one point ahead of Opotiki’s Conrad Edwards (Honda CRF456).
Always a title contender, Sunday’s race winner Mead struck problems at round one of the series near Raglan last month when he ran out of fuel, but his win on Sunday elevated him to fifth in the series rankings and to third overall in the over-300cc four-stroke class.
Reigning national cross-country champion Reeves (pictured above) missed the series opener at Raglan but his runner-up finish on Sunday has thrust him right back into contention and he now slots in at seventh in the North Island championship standings, just 20 points behind new leader Smith.
“It was one of the best tracks I have ridden on in New Zealand in a long time,” said Reeves, a 28-year-old business student at Massey University.
“It was a bit dusty early on, but, once the fields spread out, the dust wasn’t a factor.
“My muscles feel a bit sore today but I feel strong as I continue to build up for the start of the national cross-country series (due to kick off in Marlborough on April 9).
“I just need to find time now for training and travel, working in all of that around my studies,” said Reeves, the national cross-country champion in 2009 and last year as well.
Fourth on Sunday was Napier’s John O’Dea (Suzuki RM-Z450), with Te Awamutu’s Mark Penny (Suzuki RM-Z250) filling out the top five.
Meanwhile, Maramarua’s Scott Bregman (Yamaha YZ250) now leads the over-200cc two-stroke class after two rounds, while Hamilton’s Stefan Cook (Yamaha YZ144) has taken over the lead in the under-200cc two-stroke class; Taupo’s Mark De Lautour (KTM 400 EXC) boosted his lead in the senior veterans’ (45+) division and Wellington’s Hugh Lintott (Yamaha YZ450F) has stretched his lead in the veterans’ (35-44 years) category.
The third round of five in the North Island series is set for Waiouru on March 27.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com