The 27-year-old Taupo locksmith is a leading rider on the national motocross, enduro, cross-country and TT racing scenes and he simply can’t be classified, buttoned-down, typecast or labelled one thing or another.
He took a Suzuki RM-Z450 to finish fifth in the MX1 class at the motocross nationals in 2016 and he rode a Suzuki RM-Z250 to claim overall runner-up in the MX2 (250cc) class in the motocross nationals this season, finishing ahead of international visitor Jay Wilson, the Australian a recent former Grand Prix competitor.
Groombridge raced his 250cc Suzuki to win the New Zealand Enduro Championships in his “first serious attempt” in 2016 and he is close this season to making it three consecutive titles in the similar-but-separate New Zealand Cross-country Championships, with the fourth and final round of that series set for Mosgiel this coming weekend.
He is becoming renowned for keeping people guessing – where will he show up next? What will he ride? Can he be taken seriously?
The answer to the last question is always “very definitely”.
He showed up at the weekend’s annual New Zealand Miniature TT Championships near Taupiri with three different motorcycles, prepared to have a crack at three separate bike class titles.
A multi-time former national champion in this flat-track, grass paddock style of dirt bike racing, he was always going to be considered a contender and, although he was not quite able to successfully defend his TT crowns in the MX1 or MX2 classes this season, settling instead for overall runner-up in both those classes, he still managed to turn heads at the weekend.
TT racing is like superbike racing on soil instead of tarmac – the racing is off-road and the competitors use dirt bikes or quad bikes, but, unlike motocross, there are no steep hills or skyward launch ramps to slow things down.
So he decided, “just for fun”, that he’d borrow a friend’s Suzuki DR650 “adventure bike” and enter the enduro class as well.
Although he lined up against riders who were on true racing bikes, Groombridge was determined to push for glory.
It was an odd sight to witness Groombridge racing the 2013-model DR650 –complete with headlight, speedo, horn, blinkers and number plate – the road-ready bike as much as 20-25 kilograms heavier than anything else on the track.
He’d consistently managed to fight his way through traffic to claim fourth place in the first three of five outings in the Enduro bike class and then had the hillside crowd on their feet and cheering when he won the fourth Enduro race of the weekend.
He rounded out the event by finishing runner-up in the final Enduro race and this was enough for him to earn third overall for the championship, a podium ranking for a bike not normally seen in a high-speed dirt bike racing environment.
Groombridge will switch back to his Suzuki RM-Z450 race bike for the final round of the cross-country nationals in the South Island this weekend and the only change required will be for him to fit a larger-capacity fuel tank.
A top two result in the three-hour race this Saturday will be enough for him to retain his national cross-country crown.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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