The Husqvarna rider not only survived two exhausting days of racing in forestry north of Wellington at the weekend, but he also beat the best in the business and won the two-day event overall, further strengthening his grip on the national championship chase.
The 26-year-old builder from Cambridge took his distinctive white Husqvarna bike to finish overall runner-up in the 2020 New Zealand Enduro Championships, behind Kiwi international Hamish Macdonald, and this year Yearbury is top of the points table after three of five rounds, with just two more days, back-to-back racing in the Wairarapa region next weekend, standing in his path to ultimate glory.
Yearbury modestly downplayed his success in the Akatarawa Forest, in the Moonshine Valley, on Saturday and Sunday, but his narrow win over close friend and tough rival Tommy Buxton was almost surely pivotal in his bid to clinch the title for 2021.
Oparau’s James Scott, Whanganui’s Seth Reardon and Taupo’s Wil Yeoman were also impressive at the weekend, but Yearbury and his 2021-model Husqvarna FC350 had all the answers, carefully judging risk and reward to collect maximum points for the weekend.
After three rounds thus far, Yearbury’s score-card reads 2-1-1 – his runner-up finish at round one in Tokoroa in April the only real “setback” in his campaign – allowing him to build a 13-point buffer over Buxton, his nearest threat for the title.
“Well, the weekend went not too bad in the end,” said Yearbury in typically understated manner.
“I finished 13 seconds behind Tommy on Saturday, but I caught up that time and won Sunday by 14 seconds, so that gave me the overall win. It was extremely close … two days of racing and just one second between us in the end. That’s pretty incredible really.”
There are just 20 points between the top three riders on the series points table, with Oparau’s Scott third overall after three rounds.
However, with two wins from three starts, Yearbury remains the title favourite.
“I had a small crash on Saturday and then had an incident when I stalled the bike on Sunday … and it is little mistakes like those that can spell the difference in the end.
“The course at Moonshine was pretty fast in a lot of places and not too technical, but I was okay with that. With just two rounds to go, I need to minimise my mistakes. A slip-up now could be costly.”
In addition to holding the overall lead, Yearbury also leads the battle for the over-301cc four-stroke class title.
It could be a winner-takes-all final two rounds of racing, at separate venues in the Wairarapa Region, next weekend.
Round four is set for farmland near Masterton on Saturday, June 12, with the fifth and final round to be fought out near Martinborough the following day.
2021 NZ Enduro Champs calendar:
Round 1 – Saturday, April 11 – Tokoroa;
Round 2 – Saturday and Sunday, April 24-25 – Marlborough;
Round 3 – Saturday and Sunday June 5-6 – Moonshine, Kapi-Mana;
Round 4 – Saturday, June 12 – Masterton;
Round 5 – Sunday, June 13 – Martinborough.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
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