The opening round of three in the series was also held in the Bay of Plenty region, but the course being used for round two – at Maddix Park, near Tauranga – could be some fresh terrain for a large portion of riders competing in the national cross-country series. Maddix Park is a little gem of a riding spot hidden away in the hills overlooking Tauranga.
And, when the engines are shut off at the end of racing on Saturday afternoon, it also means this year’s Whyteline Beta Motorcycles-sponsored competition will have moved past the halfway stage, suggesting that success this weekend could be vital for riders with hopes of clinching a national title this season.
“Round one went really well and the new venue there proved to be extremely popular,” said Motorcycling New Zealand cross-country commissioner Paul Whibley.
“It will be fresh ground for some of riders at round two this weekend too. The owners there have done a lot of work on the track to freshen things up. Putting in culverts, widening and grooming trails. The forecast for the weekend is looking promising, so we have our fingers crossed after the rain there a week ago.
“I am quite excited about the racing coming up this weekend because it will be such different terrain to what we’ve raced on in the past for the nationals. There’s a bit of bush riding with a few tight sections, but it will be mostly free-flowing tracks,” he said.
Taupo’s three-time former champion Brad Groombridge should possibly rate as favourite to win the two-hour senior race on Saturday after his dominant performance at the series opener near Rotoma two weeks ago.
But Groombridge won’t be taking anything for granted, with strong challenges again expected from equally-talented riders such as Cambridge’s Jared Hannon, Taupo’s Wil Yeoman, Rotorua’s Callum Dudson and Eketahuna’s Luke Brown, to name a few.
In the junior ranks, it is likely that Eketahuna’s Sheldon Brown, the winner of their 90-minute race at round one, will again be a force to be reckoned with this Saturday, although leading juniors such as Te Awamutu’s Nixon Parkes, Aucklander Millen Cargill, Rotorua’s James Bates and Cambridge’s Harrison Findlay, among others, might fancy their chances too.
2023 New Zealand Cross-country Championships calendar:
Round one, Saturday, November 11, at Rotoma, near Matata;
Round two, Saturday, November 25, at Maddix Park, Tauranga;
Round three, Sunday, December 10, at Tinui, near Masterton.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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