It has already been an incredible season for the 27-year-old Taupo locksmith, but he celebrated yet more dirt biking glory on Saturday when he won the third round of five in this year’s New Zealand Enduro Championships at Maruia, near Nelson, that result propelling him into the series lead.
Groombridge is no stranger to winning enduro titles, having raced his Suzuki RM-Z250 to win the New Zealand Enduro Championships in his “first serious attempt” in 2016, and now he’s on target to claim that silverware again.
He is again riding a Suzuki RM-Z250 bike – and up against riders on 300cc and 450cc machines – but he had no problem coping with the horsepower handicap and he also had more than enough power to deal with the deep water and mud that he encountered on Saturday.
“There was a lot of standing water on the course on Saturday and I nearly got stuck a couple of times. I just couldn’t tell how deep the water was.
“At one stage I had water up to the seat on the bike, but managed to pull the bike out and kept the engine running. Quite a few other riders had issues and I think I had a bit of luck go my way.”
The rider who led the series after the opening two rounds, Helensville’s Tom Buxton, was a notable no-show on Saturday – he’s now currently racing overseas – and this would have eased the pressure on Groombridge.
Also away on overseas assignments were leading riders Dylan Yearbury, from Cambridge, and Napier’s Mackenzie Wiig, while Coatesville’s Sam Greenslade, who had been third overall in the enduro series after the first two rounds, lasted just 10 minutes on Saturday.
“I had injured my knee a couple of weeks back, but still thought I’d be good to race on Saturday,” said Greenslade.
“But the pain was too much and I didn’t last long at all. I’ll be out for six weeks now.”
In the end, it was Wainuiomata’s Jake Whitaker who finished runner-up on Saturday, followed by Tokoroa’s Jake Wightman.
Paeroa’s Chris Power, Taumarunui’s Cody Davey, Cambridge’s Beau Taylor, Nelson’s Shane McGowan, Oamaru’s Bradley Simpson, Stratford’s Josh Hunger and Paekakariki’s Tyler Mills rounded out the top 10.
Groombridge has certainly proven himself the man to beat in New Zealand these past couple of seasons, his impressive string of results surely enough to make his rivals weep.
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 earlier this season, finishing behind Auckland’s defending champion Hamish Harwood, but ahead of Australian visitor and former Grand Prix racer Jay Wilson.
As well as winning the enduro crown for the first time in 2016, Groombridge won his first national cross-country crown that year too, then backed that up by defending his cross-country title in 2017.
He then wrapped up the 2018 national cross-country crown at the final round of the series, near Mosgiel a fortnight ago – making it three successive national cross-country titles – before switching back to enduro mode of the enduro nationals event near Nelson on Saturday.
The final two rounds of this year’s enduro nationals will be a double-header weekend, day one set for the Santoft Forest, near Bulls, on June 9, and the fifth and final round of the competition set for Martinborough the following day.
2018 NZ Enduro Championships calendar:
Round 1 – April 21, Whangamata
Round 2 – April 22, Tokoroa
Round 3 – May 26, Maruia, Nelson
Round 4 – June 9, Santoft (Bulls)
Round 5 – June 10, Martinborough
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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