BACK IN THE SADDLE

After six months off, Kaukapakapa motocross rider Josh Jack took out the opening round of the Woodhill Two-man Series a week ago.

The popular Woodhill Two-man encourages two riders to tag-team for the event, taking it in turns to race a lap of the forestry course. For this opening round of the three-round series, 19-year-old Jack (Colemans BikesportNZ.com Suzuki RM-Z250) teamed up with the son of his boss, 15-year-old Luke Mobberly (Yamaha YZ125), to create the NZFX Builders Team.

A builder by trade, Jack had not had time to train or race in recent months, but none of that was obvious when he shot off the start line, rocketing from the third row of the grid and into the leading bunch.”We got into the lead on about the third lap when race leader Chris Power had mechanical problems,” Jack says. “I pushed pretty hard, because I thought there were other riders close behind, and opened up a good gap.”The NZFX Builders Team was the only pairing to complete seven laps in the three hours. Jack and Mobberly crossed the line ahead of Auckland pair Sean Fogarty and Aiden Kiff, with fellow Aucklander Callan May joining Northland’s Mitchell Nield to take third place overall in the opener, a competition sponsored by Spectrum Motorcycles.

Meanwhile, Mokau’s Adrian Smith was one of several key riders who did not split the workload with anyone and virtually did the job of two men as he finished fourth overall to win the solo section of the race. The 27-year-old sheep and beef farmer made only a last-minute decision to race at Woodhill and he lined up on the 11th row of the start grid determined to tackle it as an ironman on his Blackwood BikesportNZ.com Yamaha YZ250. He soon made up ground on the riders who set off ahead of him. The three-time national cross-country champion battled hard on the sandy, tree root-covered course and said he knew, once he had caught up to fellow Yamaha ace Adam Reeves, of Palmerston North, he had probably done enough to win his class. Smith was credited with a time of 3h 4.09m while Reeves’ time was 3h 5.08m, finishing fifth overall and making it a Yamaha double at the head of the solo class. Sixth overall and third best solo rider was Hamilton’s Sam Brown (Gas Gas EC300).

“It was hard work in the trees and I must have passed 30 or 40 riders from my row 11 start spot,” said Smith. “Just as well the solo riders were scored separately from the two-man squads.”

Round two is on August 25 and the third and final on September 29.

Mini’s step into the VictorYZone

Yamaha have just dropped this little jewel of a video, hinting that something new might just be around the corner for your mini rider. 

With a huge gap between the PW50 and the YZ85, the bLUcRU are often left bibles for kids wanting to move up to a bigger steed, allowing other brands to pounce on a kid not ready for an 85. 

Our guess would be a new 65 from Yamaha in the coming months. But only time will tell.

A year after its long-awaited and hugely successful return to Honda’s two-wheeled line-up, the Africa Twin has reached new heights by breaking the record for the highest altitude reached by a twin-cylinder motorcycle.

The scene of the record? No big deal, but it was on the slopes of an active volcano, the Nevado Ojos del Salado – situated between Argentina and Chile – up whose slopes a team of five riders piloted the Africa Twin to a record-breaking 5,965 metres above sea level.

At 6891 metres high, it is the highest volcano in the world. Upon this occasion MC 360™ with the Honda Africa Twin and CRF450RX established three records:

1)  Riding from zero to 5900 metres above the sea level in less than 24 hours

2)  Setting 5960 metres as the new maximum height for a twin-cylinder motorcycle

3)  Setting 5977 metres as maximum height reached with a motorcycle in less than 24 hours on board the CRF450X

The third record was set by Metzeler’s Head of Testing. Riding the CRF450RX, he set the record for the highest climb above sea level ever reached by a motorcycle, bringing his single-cylinder Honda to 5977 metres of altitude in 22 hours and 40 minutes. This came after a challenging climb to reach the Atacama hut at 5200 metres when riding the Africa Twin.

Fabio Mossini, enduro champion from  Honda’s Sud America race team was the man chosen to reach the new twin-cylinder landmark, before further progress was halted by two metres of snow. Who knows how much higher Mossini could have rode, but we imagine the air was getting a little thin up there!

After five days of acclimatisation, and riding standard Africa Twins specially equipped with Termignoni exhaust, revised final sprockets, new Metzeler MC360 tyres and a range of Honda genuine accessories, the international team completed their ascent within 24 hours. Their route took them – in temperatures as low as minus 5 degrees Celsius –  through broken asphalt, gravel, mud, sand and finally stretches of ice pockets known as ‘penitents’.

The monster achievement underlines once again the new Africa Twin’s credentials as the true successor to its ancestors, and one of the top bikes in the Adventure class.

A two-man battle is developing for national enduro championship honours this year, with just a handful of points to separate defending champion Brad Groombridge from his nearest challenger, Angus Macdonald.

With two of six rounds now completed, Taupo’s Groombridge knows he’s got a fight on his hands to retain the crown.

The 26-year-old Groombridge finished runner-up to 19-year-old Christchurch rider Macdonald at the opening round south of Nelson just over a week ago.

However, Groombridge finished third overall at round two at Whangamata on Saturday – significantly still one place behind Macdonald – and so Macdonald continues to lead the series outright.

Coatesville’s Sam Greenslade won Saturday’s event outright, just seven seconds ahead of Macdonald and 12 seconds ahead of Groombridge, but, as a non-finisher at Nelson, Greenslade has a lot of catching up to do and is down in seventh place overall after the two rounds.

Fourth overall on Saturday was Macdonald’s brother, Hamish Macdonald, while Helensville’s Tom Buxton and Titirangi’s Callan May rounded out the top half dozen.

As it all stacks up, Angus Macdonald has a five-point lead over Groombridge in the championship standings, with Buxton in third position overall.

There’s no reason yet for Groombridge to panic –  there is still two-thirds of the series still to come – and he’s feeling confident as he looks ahead to the next few events.

“I felt that was a pretty good result at Whangamata, but it still wasn’t a win and of course that’s what I’m aiming for,” Groombridge said.

“The track at Whangamata was quite tight and, uncertain of the terrain, I didn’t want to force the issue and so I rode quite tentatively.

“It looks like being a scrap for the title just between me and Angus at the moment and I’m in a good position. There are still four rounds to go and anything can happen.

“As long as I keep at least finishing near the front I can stay in contention. It’s possible anyway to win the championship without winning a single round,” he smiled.

“It was my first visit to the Nelson course and also my first time at Whangamata, so both times I didn’t know what to expect.

The competition now heads south for round three in the Moonshine Valley, north of Wellington, on March 18.

Round four will be held near Christchurch on May 6 and then Waitawhiti Station, east of Eketahuna, hosts round five on June 3. Finally, the enduro nationals wrap up near Tokoroa just two days later, on June 5.

“I have raced at Moonshine before and I like it there,” said Groombridge.

Meanwhile, the leading riders in the intermediate grade on Saturday were Whitianga’s Blake Wilkins and Auckland pair Cameron Manley and Jeff Van Hout.

 

Words: MNZ

It was very much a “one-horse contest” in the upper echelon of New Zealand’s moto trials community at the Nationals…