You could be forgiven for calling Chris Power and Adam Reeves the “Dream Team” of cross-country racing after they again topped their class at the weekend.
North Shore’s Power and Palmerston North’s Reeves rode identical Yamaha YZ450F bikes at the annual Acerbis Four-Hour Cross-country race near Taupo on Saturday, finishing overall runners-up but also winning the over-300cc teams’ title.
They could not quite manage a repeat of the outright win they enjoyed last month – when they had teamed up to win the rain-shortened Suzuki Six-Hour Dirt Bike Challenge, also near Taupo – with Taupo’s Brad Groombridge (Suzuki RM-X450) instead being the first rider to cross the line on Saturday.
Groombridge, riding solo, was impressive in winning the event outright, holding on for a narrow seven-second win as Reeves mounted a late charge on the sixth and final lap of the gruelling race.
Both ironman Groombridge and two-rider team Power and Reeves had advantages with the way they raced on Saturday, Groombridge able to complete two laps at a time without stopping for fuel, but Power and Reeves sharing the rigors or racing and able to rest while their co-rider was racing.
And that was the intriguing aspect to Saturday’s marathon off-road race, with Groombridge able to put a 30 or 40-second gap on the Yamaha men every second lap, but Groombridge also tiring near the end of the race in the Tahorakuri Forest, just north of Wairakei.
Power snatched the holeshot as a shotgun blast signalled the start and nearly 200 riders charged their way through the open paddock, creating a huge dust storm, before the riders entered the forest for the first time (seen in photo above).
Forty minutes later and Power re-emerged from the trees with Groombridge in second spot, about 90 seconds behind. That set the tone for the afternoon with a priority placed on the support crews being able to provide a slick rider transfer or swift refuel and goggle change.
“Brad (Groombridge) gained a lot of ground on us when he didn’t have to come into the pits and, as he chewed into our lead every second lap, he then took over the lead with about two laps to go,” Power explained.
For the final stint it was Reeves who had the assignment to peg back Groombridge and, sensing that Groombridge might be tiring, the Manawatu man pushed hard and managed to pull a minute back, ultimately crossing the line just seven seconds adrift in one of the closest finishes seen in the event’s six-year history.
“We are not happy with finishing second, but still quite satisfied with our performance,” said Power, who will now rest and recover from his foot injury before preparing to tackle the New Zealand Enduro Championships, beginning in February.
Reeves will meanwhile take his Yamaha YZ450 to tackle the popular Yamaha Taikorea 500 in the Manawatu on November 22, followed by the New Zealand Cross-country Championships series, which kicks off in February.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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