HONDA GOES NUTS WITH 2019 MODELS

While Honda have been tuning up their model line over the last couple of years, you couldn’t say they had one of the more expansive dirt line ups in the market. That is about to change though. Check out what the Big Red Wing has in store for us in 2019!

Highlights for Team DRD include a brand new CRF450X as well as the introduction of a CRF250RX!

Plus, if you want to take your bike from muddy trails into the centre of town to top up on a piping hot coffee, you’ll be able to with the bike that many lightweight ADV riders have wanted since 2013 – the CRF450L!

Seriously, well done Honda.

DRD has reached out for Blue Wing Honda, importers of Honda Motorcycles in New Zealand, for more details including expected arrival for these new fire breathing machines. We’ll let you know as soon as they get back to us.

Watch the vid for more deets and an appearance of a strangely familiar old bloke who seems to know his stuff…

BATTLE BEGINS FOR 2018 DIRT GUIDE HONOURS

Perhaps our next national champion or international hero will be among those in action near Tokoroa this weekend.

The 2018 Dirt Guide Cross-country Series kicks off this weekend, again promising 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 Coatesville’s Sam Greenslade, Manawatu’s Paul Whibley and Howick’s Liam Draper, 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 2018 kicks off at Ohakuri – about halfway between Tokoroa and Taupo – this Sunday (May 27) 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 June 24, and the third and final round of the series on July 22, also at the popular Ohakuri venue, doubles up as the opening round of six in the parallel-but-separate NZXC cross-country series, that competition piggy-backing onto select major events throughout the North Island.

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.

Sunday’s event is also an ideal opportunity for the lesser or novice riders to learn from masters such as 2016 Dirt Guide Series winner Sam Greenslade, of Coatesville, former Kiwi international Callan May, of Titirangi, or Manawatu’s Paul Whibley.

Former United States and New Zealand cross-country champion Whibley was the outright winner of the Dirt Guide Series last year, while 2016 was the second time Greenslade had won the Dirt Guide Series, having clinched the senior title also in 2014.

“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 Wellington’s Jake Whitaker (KTM) 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 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, Raglan’s Jason Dickey and Cambridge’s Ashton Grey 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.

Thames rider Natasha Cairns will be firm favourite to win the women’s grade, although Te Awamutu’s Rachael Archer will also be a stand-out for the women.

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.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan

ENDURO NATIONALS REACH HALFWAY STAGE ON SATURDAY

The 2018 New Zealand Enduro Championships will reach the halfway point in the South Island this weekend.

The third round of five is set for Maruia, near Nelson, on Saturday, an event that could be pivotal for title hopefuls.

Helensville’s Tom Buxton placed himself on top of the AA Grade (formerly known as Expert Grade) standings after a couple of stellar rides at rounds one and two, at Whangamata and Tokoroa respectively, last month, but he has already ruled himself out of title contention.

Those initial forays were possibly the 20-year-old’s only two appearances in the enduro nationals this season as he now heads off for a “fun ride” in Romania and then a serious competitive outing in Austria, at the Erzberg “Iron Giant” enduro, from May 31-June 3.

Buxton won the day at Whangamata by just three seconds from Taupo’s 2016 national enduro champion Brad Groombridge and he then followed that up by winning the day at Tokoroa by 21 seconds, on this occasion finishing ahead of Coatesville rider Sam Greenslade.

So, with Buxton heading overseas, it leaves Groombridge and Greenslade, second and third respectively after two rounds, as the men most likely to scrap for the top honours.

Also impressive at the opening two rounds was Cambridge’s Dylan Yearbury, who finished third at round one and then fourth at round two, and Paeroa’s Chris Power, who twice finished fifth overall, and they should also be expected to threaten for the outright title win this season.

Wainuiomata’s Jake Whitaker, sixth and sixth in the two rounds thus far, and Stratford’s Josh Hunger (8-8) are also perhaps on target for a podium finish this season.

Thames woman Natasha Cairns is the leading rider in the A Grade (formerly known as the Intermediate Grade). She finished runner-up in the A Grade at Whangamata and then third in the grade at Tokoroa.

Her nearest rival is Putaruru’s Phil Skinner, who has a 1-5 score-card for the A Grade after two rounds and he is just one point behind Cairns.

Round four of the series is scheduled for the Santoft Forest, near Bulls, on June 9, with the fifth and final round the following day near Martinborough.

 

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

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BILLY BOLT INTERVIEW – WESS ROUND 1 WINNER

Charging to victory at Extreme XL Lagares, Britain’s Billy Bolt became the first ever winner of a round of the World Enduro Super Series. Beautifully mastering the rugged Portuguese terrain, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider led home a field of world class Enduro talent to secure the top step of the podium and maximum points from round one.


Fresh off his podium celebrations, it was time to catch up with Bolt who, after round one of WESS, now leads the race to become this year’s ULTIMATE ENDURO CHAMPION.

Congratulations Billy you are a first-time winner of both the World Enduro Super Series and Extreme XL Lagares. How do you feel?

Billy Bolt: “I’m absolutely delighted to win. It’s my first major international Enduro victory. I’ve been close a couple of times before but never quite made it over the finish line, so I’m really happy to get the job done. To do it at the first ever round of the World Enduro Super Series is extra special.”

You faced a nervous wait at the end to see if Taddy Blazusiak could beat you on corrected time, were you worried he might pull off something special?

“It was a tense time waiting on Taddy to finish his race. Everyone was going crazy with excitement saying I’d won, but I knew Taddy was charging and on corrected time he could still win it. He’s such a class act that anything is possible with him. So I tried to remain calm, patient and wait to see if he finished inside that 14-minute window I’d started the race ahead of him on. It was only when the time elapsed I knew I’d done enough.”

You started Sunday’s two-lap main race third behind Jonny Walker and Cody Webb, was that an advantage or disadvantage for you?

“If anything, it was a disadvantage but I took it how it was. On lap one I made a mistake trying too hard to catch them and lost a few minutes, but luckily nothing major. On lap two I felt more comfortable and wanted to push on. I had a few good lines on the most technical obstacles and was able to make my way around the back markers. But to be fair to the later starting riders, a lot of them moved aside and let the Pro riders battle for the victory — some even helped out on the hardest sections, so I’ve huge respect for them for that. I saw Jonny a few times but I didn’t quite know the gap we had. Once I passed him I knew I was provisionally leading, however I also knew of the situation regarding the fast riders still coming behind, so I kept pushing on.”

As a first-time visitor to Extreme XL Lagares what were your thoughts on Sunday’s Main Race?

“Extreme XL Lagares has a fierce reputation and it’s certainly lived up to its name. After the opening lap, I thought the river crossings might improve once riders had passed through them but that wasn’t the case. It was so slippery out there and in some rivers, there was no grip at all. You had to constantly search for tiny patches of grass or dirt to gain some extra traction. It was hard work for sure and a very technical start to the championship.”

Round two of WESS will mark your third visit to the Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble. Do you believe you can make it third time lucky and win?

“I’ve been to the Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble twice and I’ve experienced the best and worst of it. In 2016 it was my first Hard Enduro race and I finished fifth, then last year I rode with a broken toe and wasn’t able to deliver my best. But it’s an amazing place for round two of WESS. It’s my favourite race of the season because of the history which surrounds the event — it’s a hugely important race for Enduro. All the greats of our sport have won there and I’d love nothing more than to put my name on the winner’s list, too. Claiming victory would ensure an incredible start to the WESS championship.”

Finally, with victory at round one how do you now feel about the rest of the championship?

“I couldn’t ask for anything better than winning round one. Although I’m one of the youngest riders in the championship I feel like I’ve prepared as best I can to fight with the top Enduro riders in the world. Knowing that rounds one and two will favour the Hard Enduro riders I was focused on starting well. But I believe this win will give me confidence for the rest of the year ahead, to keep pushing for the overall series and that title of ULTIMATE ENDURO CHAMPION.”

The World Enduro Super Series continues with round two at Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble on June 1-3.

World Enduro Super Series Standings (after round 1)
1. Billy Bolt (GBR), Husqvarna, 1000 points
2. Jonny Walker (GBR), KTM, 850 pts
3. Manni Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 770 pts
4. Taddy Blazusiak (POL), KTM, 690 pts
5. Graham Jarvis (GBR), Husqvarna, 610 pts…

FOX RACING WELCOMES CHRISTIAN CRAIG

With the team at the Alias camp going a little quiet, not only have the complete Geico Honda team gone to Shift Racing effective immediately but Christian Craig, who will race the outdoors in place of the injured Cole Seeley, has teamed up with FOX Racing for the foreseeable future. CHOICE!


I think it’s every rider’s dream to wear Fox I’ve actually never put the gear on until a couple of weeks ago and it was kind of surreal. The comfort and style are unlike anything else on the market and I am honored to be able to wear it this summer for outdoors.” – Christian Craig, Geico Honda