After more than two months of being cooped up at home because of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, it’s expected the motorcycle racers will be totally full-throttle now that restrictions have been eased completely.
Perhaps our next national champion or international hero will be among those in action in the forest, the challenging venue about halfway between Tokoroa and Taupo, when the always-popular Dirt Guide Cross-country Series kicks off for 2020 on Saturday.
The three-round series again promises to be anything you want it to be … a serious competition for New Zealand’s elite dirt bike racers, a challenging afternoon’s ride in the bush or just a leisurely cruise along leafy forest pathways.
It will appeal to all-comers, but don’t be fooled by the varied skill-level aspect of the series, because it is precisely events such as this that have created, inspired and nurtured Kiwi cross-country racing talent over the years before setting some of our brightest young talent on a pathway to top-level international competition.
Several Dirt Guide race winners from the past, riders such as Manawatu’s Paul Whibley, Howick’s Liam Draper, Titirangi’s Callan May and Te Awamutu’s Rachael Archer, to name a few individuals, have all raced internationally in recent times and they can each trace their beginnings to dirt bike competitions such as this one.
This three-round series for 2020 kicks off at Ohakuri this Saturday (June 20) and it is sure to attract riders from both ends of the aptitude and competitiveness spectrum.
Round two is set for the same course the following month, on July 18, and the third and final round of the series is on August 15, also at the popular Ohakuri venue.
For each of the three rounds, a trail ride will be held at the same venue the following day.
The popularity of The Dirt Guide Series has grown steadily since its beginnings in 2008 and, with separate trails and several different grades incorporated into the day’s racing, catering for all levels of confidence and ability.
Saturday’s event is also an ideal opportunity for the lesser or novice riders to learn from the masters and the following day, Sunday, may also be a chance to hone those skills with a trail ride planned for the same venue.
“We want all dirt bike owners to come and have a go at bush riding,” said Dirt Guide Series promoter Sean Clarke, of Tokoroa.
“With riders getting older every year, we are really keen to provide an experience to entice the younger riders to come along and ride. There are classes for riders as young as seven,” he said.
“Only a few people ever win races like this, so it’s not really about the winning, but about participation.”
The talent runs deep at the sharp end of the competition, with riders such as Cambridge’s Dylan Yearbury (Husqvarna), Wellington’s Jake Whitaker (KTM), Whanganui’s Seth Reardon (Yamaha) and Te Awamutu’s Kevin Archer (KTM), to name just a few, among those worth watching and learning from over the course of the two-hour senior race.
The central North Island location of the Dirt Guide event and the new freedoms that riders will enjoy after lock-down virtually guarantees a good-sized entry list.
It is expected therefore that other leading cross-country riders such as Taupo’s Nathan Tesselaar, Hamilton’s Phillip Goodwright, Waimauku’s Jake Wightman, Stratford’s Josh Hunger, Helensville’s Tom Buxton (pictured here), Raglan’s Jason Dickey, Cambridge’s Ashton Grey and Thames rider Jason Davis will also be contenders to win one of the rounds or perhaps even the series this year.
In addition to the expert grade riders, the series caters also for junior riders and for intermediates, veterans and women as well.
The forest venue is signposted from Atiamuri on SH1, midway between Tokoroa and Taupo, with the 90-minute junior race set to kick off at 9.30am, while the two-hour senior race will start just after midday.
The Dirt Guide Series is sponsored by Michelin, Bel Ray, Renthal, O’Neal, DRC, Zeta, Kiwi Rider magazine, Oakley goggles, Ogio, TCX boots, Yoshimura, Forest Trail Events and SatCo Logging Equipment.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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