Taranaki motorcycle ace Adrian Smith will probably meet his match this weekend.
The Yamaha YZ250F rider from Mokau made a cracking start to his 2011-2012 cross-country racing season, the recently-named Waitomo Sportsperson of the Year winning the opening round of the Taranaki Motorcycle Club’s inaugural Energy Honda Cross-country Series at Tarata, east of Inglewood, just before Christmas.
But, surprisingly, he won’t be the favourite to win the second round of four in that series, at Kaipikari Road, Urenui, this Saturday.
The man who will be favoured is United States cross-country No.2 Paul Whibley (Yamaha YZ450F), the Kiwi international from Pahiatua back home for a break before he heads back to America to tackle the 2012 edition of the Grand National Cross Country Series.
Smith won the first round of the Taranaki series ahead of Huntly’s Michael Vining (KTM300) and another Taranaki man, New Plymouth’s Renny Johnston (Yamaha YZ125).
“I hope I can foot it with Whibley,” said Smith. “Anyone can be beaten on the day, so I’ll just be doing my best and see what happens. It might be wet this weekend, so that rules out any horsepower advantage he might have.
“You can take nothing away from Michael Vining or Renny Johnston either. Those guys are definitely on the pace too.
“I’m actually quite comfortable not to have the ‘favourite’ tag. With good opposition it means I’ll have to ride very hard indeed and that’s all good training ahead of the cross-country nationals.”
Saturday’s main three-hour race kicks off with a shotgun blast at 10.30am with categories to cater for all ages, abilities and engine capacities.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com