Wellington’s Rory Mead showed why he is the national enduro champion on Saturday, although he will find it impossible to stay top of the points table this season.
The 25-year-old started his Yamaha New Zealand Enduro Championships defence in the best possible way, winning Saturday’s first round of five in the 2012 series near Kawhia, but he now packs his bags and heads to the United States to race, making his New Zealand title defence virtually impossible.
His American adventure rules him out of at least one, and possibly more, rounds of the Kiwi competition.
And that means the two men who finished joint equal at Kawhia on Saturday – Auckland’s Chris Power (Honda) and Palmerston North’s Adam Reeves (Yamaha) – could be the men to watch as this season develops.
But, for the time being at least, Mead showed he is still king of enduro in New Zealand.
“The track was wicked,” said Mead. “I was actually riding cautiously today because I didn’t want to injure myself before I fly out.”
Fourth best at Kawhia was Auckland’s Sam Greenslade (Husqvarna), while Hokianga’s Damon Nield (Husqvarna) rounded out the top five.
In terms of class honours, Mead leads the over-300cc four-stroke class; Greenslade heads the under-300cc four-stroke class; Nield tops the under-200cc two-stroke category and his elder brother Mitchell Nield (Gas Gas) is at the head of the over-200cc two-stroke class.
A surprise result was that of Te Awamutu’s Kevin Archer (KTM), the 44-year-old back in the sport after a five-year hiatus and still showing the pace to win. The bull and dairy farmer finished seventh overall at Kawhia on Saturday and he tops the veterans’ (over-40) division.
Motorcycling New Zealand enduro commissioner Shaun Prescott, of Thames, said he was encouraged by the rider turn-out at Kawhia.
“The sport is obviously in a very healthy state,” he said. “The event organisation by Sean Clarke and his crew was fantastic. The course was both challenging and safe and you can’t ask for much more than that.”
The next round is scheduled for Northland on March 11, with rounds to follow at Whangamata on April 14, Waimiha on May 5 and, finally, Taupo on July 21.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com