The 27-year-old Yamaha ace won both the New Zealand Cross-country Championships outright and the New Zealand Enduro Championships outright last year – as well as winning his individual bike class in both competitions – and his double title defence this season has already reaped rewards with the 2013 national cross-country crown in the bag following a scintillating display of riding at the final round of that series just over a week ago.
All that’s left to do now, to make this another perfect season, is to retain the enduro crown, although that’s proving to be a fraction problematic at the moment.
Although Smith (Blackwood BikesportNZ.com Yamaha YZ250) has been among the frontrunners at each of the four rounds of the enduro nationals thus far, he has yet to win an event, shaded each time by fellow Kiwi international Chris Birch (KTM).
Smith hopes his winning momentum from the cross-country nationals will carry over into his enduro campaign with the fifth round of eight in the Yamaha New Zealand Enduro Championships set for the Maramarua Forest, near Huntly, this Saturday.
“The harder the race, the better I like it. I’m pretty fit at the moment,” said Smith.
“Riding the cross-country nationals, doing the enduro nationals and riding on my farm … plus I’ve been doing a lot of fitness work with Hamilton trainer John Appel and that’s been incredible.
“Chris Birch is riding incredibly well and he’s hard to beat. I just need to keep the pressure on him. You never know what can happen. A flat tyre or something breaking on the bike and either one of us will drop valuable points. It’s exciting stuff.”
Neither Smith nor Birch can expect an easy time of it on Saturday either, with Whangamata’s former national enduro champion Jason Davis (KTM), Tokoroa international Sean Clarke (KTM) and Dirt Guide Cross-country Series leader Reece Burgess (KTM), of Tauranga, all nipping at their heels.
Other riders likely to threaten on Saturday include Auckland’s Callan May (Yamaha YZ250F), the Kiwi Rider BikesportNZ.com-supported rider running fourth overall and with one hand already on the under-300cc four-stroke class title.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com