Two events, two-days, two wins … and that’s the abbreviated version of the story of one Auckland motorcycle rider at the weekend.
Howick’s Liam Draper certainly likes to make the most of his weekends, the 19-year-old apprentice plumber taking his Husqvarna FE250 four-stroke bike into the thick of the action at Saturday’s Cambridge Four-Hour cross country race and then simply refuelling his bike and lining up to tackle the North Island Enduro Championships round at Riverhead Forest the following day.
The bike was versatile to cope with both extreme sports and so was the man.
He teamed up with Taupo motocross ace Brad Groombridge for the four-hour race on Saturday, the two men tag-teaming for the duration and Draper electing to ride first.
“I managed a good start and was in about third position for the first half lap, until I took the lead and started building a lead,” said Draper.
“I had Raglan’s Jason Dickey (who was teamed with Rotorua’s Scott Birch) on my tail for a bit and then handed over the Brad (Groombridge), who managed to stretch out our advantage. It was a pretty dusty track and was hard work, but my fitness is good and we ended up winning (ahead of Mokau pair Adrian Smith and Aaron Jones) by about two minutes (at the end of the 10-lap race).
“I had always been intending to race the enduro on Sunday … it’s part of my build-up for the nationals.
“I really enjoyed this event, mostly because it’s my home turf really. I finished second behind (national enduro champion) Chris Birch in the first terrain test and the crashed in the next test to finish fourth, but I won every test after that.”
After seven tests in total, Draper ended up winning the day by just over a minute ahead of Kiwi international Callan May, of Titirangi.
“I’m planning to contest both the New Zealand Cross-country Championships and the New Zealand Enduro Championships this season and that is now possible because there are no clashes with the dates.”
The four-round cross-country nationals kick off near Huntly this Sunday, with the first of five rounds of the enduro nationals set for Christchurch on March 26.
With his epic performances at the weekend, Draper would surely rate among the favourites to win both those two series this season.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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