Wainuiomata’s defending champion Jake Whitaker, a record eight-time national champion in the quite similar dirt bike code of trial riding, holds a slim advantage in the points situation, having won the series opener near Porirua in early September and then finishing runner-up at round two near Whangamata two weeks later.
Cambridge builder Dylan Yearbury won the day at round two, but he’s still in catch-up mode, having skipped round one due to injury.
Round three of the series is a two-dayer in Hawke’s Bay today and tomorrow, October 31 and November 1. The competition wraps up with another double-header weekend, at the Nut Buster hard enduro at Oxford, near Christchurch, on November 14-15.
With riders to discard their worst result from the three North Island rounds of the series, therefore making the South Island finale a must-do event, the title chase is really still wide open and Whitaker can’t afford to rest on his laurels.
This weekend’s two-day affair in Hawke’s Bay (at 435 Puketapu Road, near Taradale, for day one and then at Tutira, 45 kilometres north of Napier, at 899 Waikoau Road, State Highway 2, for day two) could be pivotal in determining where the silverware ends up this season.
In addition to Whitaker and Yearbury, riders such as Helensville’s Tom Buxton, New Plymouth’s Tony Parker and Putaruru’s Nigel Smith are also likely be contenders in the elite Gold Grade this weekend.
Yearbury will obviously offer up his no-show at round one as his “discard” event and that means it’s vital for him to perform well, preferably to win, at the rounds that remain.
Motorcycling New Zealand enduro commissioner Justin Stevenson said the racing this weekend should be “as close and exciting as any off-road event could be” and will sorely test the riders over varied and challenging terrain at the two very different venues.
Saturday’s enduro-cross style event is confined to a tight, intricate and technical man-made stadium-style course, with some faster hill sections, on farmland at Puketapu.
For Tutira on Sunday, the Bronze Grade track is approximately 30 kilometres long and is expected to take riders 90 minutes to traverse. The Silver Grade track is about 35 kilometres long and expected to take riders two hours to complete, while the Gold Grade track is approximately 40 kilometres long and expected to take more than two hours.
The 2020 Yamaha NZ Extreme Off-Road Championships are supported by Mitas tyres, Macaulay Metals, Best Build Construction, Silver-bullet and Kiwi Rider magazine.
The 2020 NZ Extreme Off-Road Championship calendar:
Round one: September 13, Moonshine Extreme, Bulls Run Rd, Porirua.
Round two: September 26, Taungatara Forest, Whangamata.
Round three: October 31-November 1, Over The Top, Hawke’s Bay.
Round four: November 14-15, Nut Buster, Oxford, Christchurch.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
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