When the dust cleared after the opening two rounds of this season’s New Zealand Enduro Championships over the Easter Weekend holiday, there were two fresh names on the top of the leader-board.
Taupo’s Brad Groombridge and Christchurch’s Hamish Macdonald shared the spoils over the two days of racing, Saturday’s series opener in the Greta Valley, near Christchurch, won by Macdonald, with Groombridge finishing runner-up, and the second round near Mosgiel on Easter Monday won by Groombridge, with Macdonald taking the No.2 spot on that occasion.
Howick’s Liam Draper finished each of the days third overall.
With three rounds still to come, all of them in the North Island, it’s probably too early to be lining up the trophy engraver just yet, but certainly Groombridge, Macdonald and Draper must already rate among the most likely candidates to take home the silverware this season.
Fourth overall after two rounds is Titirangi’s Callan May – who finished fifth on Saturday and fourth on Monday – with Coatesville’s Sam Greenslade (7-5) rounding out the top five.
With riding conditions at the weekend described by many as “perfect”, with virtually no dust and little mud, the riders were able to perform at their best, tackling the rugged terrain with confidence as well as skill.
For multi-talented Groombridge (pictured above), who has just finished the national motocross championships series fifth overall in the MX1 class and also won the opening round of the parallel New Zealand cross-country championships near Huntly last month, the enduro scene is also becoming more familiar to him and that can mean just one thing, he’s probably going to get even better as the enduro series progresses.
He met his match in Macdonald on Saturday, but turned the tables at round two on Easter Monday and with the series now heading closer to Groombridge’s home turf, the racing’s only going to get tougher for all of Groombridge’s rivals.
“I crashed twice on Monday, but didn’t lose too much time,” said Groombridge. “I’ve done a lot of riding lately and I’m now able to apply different riding skills to the different codes.
“I was penalised 20 seconds on Saturday for not having a headlight on my motocross bike that was deemed to be up-to-standard, but I rectified that for Monday’s event. It actually didn’t make any difference in the outcome, it just meant that Hamish (Macdonald) beat me by 26 seconds (over the whole day) on Saturday instead of just six seconds.”
“I’m riding the smaller Suzuki RM-Z250 for the enduro series, instead of my usual RM-Z450 because it’s a bit more nimble and manoeuvrable in the tight trees.”
The various championship class leaders are two of five rounds are Helensville’s Tom Buxton (expert under-200cc two-stroke class), Taupo’s Brad Groombridge (expert under-300cc four-stroke), Christchurch’s Hamish Macdonald (expert over-200cc two-stroke), Hamilton’s Chris Power (over-300cc four-stroke), Tokoroa’s Sean Clarke (expert veterans, over 40 years).
The national series continues with round three near Wellington on April 9, round four at Waimiha on June 4 and, finally, it all wraps up near Tokoroa on June 5.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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