It’s turning into quite a season for Bay of Plenty dirt bike ace Brad Groombridge.
Taupo’s Groombridge took his MC2 Suzuki Racing Team RM-Z450 to finish a respectable fifth overall in the four-round New Zealand Motocross Championships, which wrapped up in Taupo last month, then followed on to race a smaller version of the same bike, a Suzuki RM-Z250, in the first two of five rounds of the New Zealand Enduro Championships just over a week ago.
The 25-year-old locksmith finished runner-up at round one of that separate dirt bike competition and then won round two – both rounds staged back-to-back at different South Island venues over the Easter Weekend – to emerge on the Monday afternoon with a shared lead in the championship with three rounds to go.
At the weekend just gone, he was again on his 450cc bike as he returned his attention to the parallel and similar New Zealand Cross-country Championships, the second of four rounds in that competition being held near Mosgiel on Sunday, and again he was “at the pointy end” of the racing.
Groombridge won Sunday’s gruelling three-hour race from Howick’s Liam Draper (Husqvarna FE250), Titirangi’s Callan May (Yamaha YZ250X), Mokau’s four-time former national cross-country champion Adrian Smith (Yamaha YZ250FX) and Pahiatua’s Charles Alabaster (Honda CRF450).
Groombridge had also won the opening round of this series near Huntly in February, and so, with points from the best three of four rounds only to be counted as riders discard their one worst result, this means Groombridge is perhaps now just one race away from winning his first national cross-country crown.
“I got a terrible start and had to chase down the race leaders,” said Groombridge. ”
“I caught up to the frontrunners on about lap three and took the lead next lap. I had a bit of a battle going on with Liam Draper but I managed to break clear of him in the end.”
The winner of the 90-minute junior race held earlier in the day was Nelson’s Jackson Walker (Yamaha YZ125), with the round one winner of the junior grade, Raglan’s Logan Shaw (Honda CRF250) this time settling for runner-up spot.
Third best junior on Sunday was Cheviot’s Sam McPherson (KTM 250XC-F), with Tapawera’s Keegan Anglesey (Yamaha YZ125) and Eketahuna’s Chris Dickson (Yamaha YZ250F) rounding out the top five.
“The course was a lot tighter than at the corresponding event last year,” said Motorcycling New Zealand cross-country commissioner Chris Smyth.
“It was mostly dry, but also a bit boggy in places, so the riders had a bit of everything to deal with. The bogs caused a few problems for some of the riders and they really had to have their wits about them to get through.”
Rounds three and four of the national cross-country series will be held respectively in Taranaki on April 16 and, finally, near Nelson on May 14.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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