Te Awamutu’s Mark Penny will have the bit between his teeth this weekend as he seeks to claw his way to the top of the national cross-country championships standings this weekend.
The Suzuki ace knows he only has an outside chance of winning the Suzuki New Zealand Cross-country Championships this season, the third round of four set for Cheviot, just north of Christchurch, on Saturday and just a small cluster of riders now mathematically capable of winning the title outright.
Penny is right amongst that “cluster”, third in the standings, just nine points behind Mokau’s Adrian Smith and just 10 points behind the series leader, defending champion Adam Reeves, of Palmerston North.
The series is now at the halfway mark and with only three of the four rounds to count – riders able to discard their one worst result – Penny fancies his chances of remaining in a podium position and perhaps even pushing for the top spot with a good result in Canterbury on Saturday.
Riders such as Raglan’s Brandon Given, Pukekohe’s Matthew Vining and Stratford’s Karl Roberts also have incentive to fire up this weekend and possibly force their way onto the championship podium.
Motorcycling New Zealand cross-country commissioner Murray Searle, of Palmerston North, said the course in the Greta Valley area has been popular with riders in the past.
“It offers a bit of everything,” he said. “Even riders on the smaller capacity bikes will find here that they can challenge for the win. There has been a bit of rain down there this week, so it might be a bit greasy too and that will make things interesting.”
A 90-minute race for junior competitors begins at about 9.30am, with the three-hour senior race to follow at midday.
Top juniors to watch for include the winner at both rounds one and two, Raglan’s Jason Dickey (Kawasaki), Maruia’s Ethan Bruce (Yamaha) and Te Awamutu’s Ayden Dunn (Kawasaki), the riders who are currently first, second and third in the standings.
The fourth and final round of the championship is set for Taranaki on May 14.
In addition to Suzuki New Zealand, the series is also sponsored by DRD magazine and Hydraulink Fluid Connectors.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com