Raglan’s Jason Dickey may now be just one race away from clinching the New Zealand cross-country crown for 2019.

The KTM 350XC-F rider has been unbeaten in the series thus far, making it back-to-back wins on Sunday as Mosgiel hosted the second of four rounds for the championship.

With only three of the four rounds are to be counted, riders to discard their worst result of the four, it means Dickey already perhaps has one hand on the trophy.

A top-three result at the next round of the series, in Marlborough on April 14, means he may not even need to line up at the final round, near Taupo on May 25.

Dickey dominated proceedings at the series opener near Norsewood in February, charging through the field to take victory by nearly a minute ahead of fellow KTM rider Sam Brown, from Glen Murray, but it was an even bigger winning margin for Dickey at the course near Outram on Sunday, Dickey this time crossing the finish line nearly two minutes clear of runner-up rider Seth Reardon, from Whanganui.

Another Raglan rider, Brandon Given, claimed the third podium spot on Sunday, finishing just 15 seconds behind Reardon.

Brown had to settle for a sixth place finish at Mosgiel and he has therefore slipped from second to third in the overall championship standings, albeit just three points adrift of Reardon.

The 90-minute junior race, held earlier in the morning, was won by Eltham’s defending national junior champion Adam Loveridge, with the round one winner from Raglan, Coby Rooks, this time forced to accept second place.

Rooks still tops the junior standings, but now just two points ahead of Loveridge.

Dickey was quick to blast of the start line on Sunday and, although he was amongst the traffic exiting turn one, he was into the lead just 400 metres later.

“I pulled a massive gap and just maintained that until the end,” said the 24-year-old dairy farmer. “I had a couple of big crashes on Sunday, one when I hit a clump of tussock grass and was flung off the bike, but I was far enough in front that I could recover myself and not lose my position. It was quite slippery on the short grass sections and hard to stop the bike. I got tangled in some fence wire on another occasion and lost about 20 seconds getting free, but it was nothing major and again I didn’t lose my lead. After that, I was just trying to stay focused and not make any more mistakes. One good result now at the next round should give me the title,” he smiled. “I just have to keep calm and carry on.”

NZ Cross Country Championships calendar 2019:

Round One: Sunday, February 10 – Central Hawke’s Bay MCC
Round Two: Sunday, March 24 – Mosgiel District MCC
Round Three: Sunday, April 14 – Marlborough MCC
Round Four: Saturday May 25 – Taupo MCC

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

Raglan’s Jason Dickey (KTM 350XC-F), now with back-to-back wins to his credit in the 2019 New Zealand Cross-country Championships.

Twice as much race time on his bike is translating into multiple successes for Whanganui Yamaha ace Seth Reardon.

The just-turned 21-year-old is currently running with the leaders in two very different bike disciplines and, with races still to be run in both the separate competitions, he fancies his chances of tasting even more glory before the year is out. 

Reardon took his 2019-model Yamaha YZ250FX to finish overall runner-up at the second round of four in this year’s New Zealand Cross-country Championships near Mosgiel on Sunday and that result, added to his fourth placing at the series opener near Norsewood in February, has boosted him into the No.2 spot in the title chase.

And, riding the same bike, the apprentice engineer is a also running fifth overall in the New Zealand Enduro Championships after the first of seven rounds in Whangamata just over a week ago, that series sponsored by Yamaha.

But it is Raglan’s Jason Dickey who leads the cross-country nationals and, with only three of the four rounds to be counted – riders to discard their one worst result – it means there is really only a slim chance that Reardon can snatch then title.

All the same, Reardon reckons he’d be thrilled with an overall runner-up finish in the cross-country nationals – it would be a career-best result for him.

He attributes his recent successes to hard work.

“It’s been looking good for me this season,” said Reardon. “I have been training very hard this year and it’s paying off. I’m in the gym every day and spend lots of time on the bike, riding Wednesdays and at the weekends. I don’t know why I’ve been going so well… I’ve had no problems; the bike is awesome, so reliable; my fitness is the best it’s ever been; I’ve been practicing my starts a lot … it all helps. I got a good start at Mosgiel on Sunday. I was in about third position into turn one, but then eight riders cut me off at the third marker peg, cutting the course, and that dropped me back. It was a bit of karma just after that because a bunch of them got stuck in a mud bog and I just chose a better line and scooted back past them again and was up to third place. I had a great battle with (Raglan’s) Brandon Given throughout the race as we fought over the runner-up spot… Jason Dickey was long gone by then. Dickey is on fire at the moment, but I was happy to finish second. That’s my best result at the nationals.”

The 90-minute junior race at Mosgiel on Sunday was won by Eltham’s defending national junior champion Adam Loveridge, with the round one winner from Raglan, Coby Rooks, this time accepting second place.

Taupo Yamaha rider Wil Yeoman completed the junior podium at Mosgiel.

There will be little rest now for Reardon especially, the double championship campaigner preparing now for round two of the enduro nationals on the Kapiti Coast on Saturday, April 6, and then round three of the cross-country nationals in Marlborough on Sunday, April 14.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

Whanganui’s Seth Reardon (Yamaha YZ250FX), on fire in two separate bike codes this season.

It could be time for a shake-up as the 2019 New Zealand Cross Country Championships race towards the halfway stage in the South Island this weekend.

Hosted by the Mosgiel District Motorcycle Club, the second round of four in this season’s New Zealand Cross Country Championships will see the nation’s dirt bike elite converge on Scorgie’s property, Lee Stream, on Sunday. The venue will be signposted from Outram. 

After a close and exciting series opener near Norsewood in February, riders have had time to recoup and recover, prepare their bikes and plan their attack for Mosgiel and the championship is still wide open.

Outright senior grade winner at Norsewood was Raglan’s Jason Dickey, with Glen Murray rider Sam’ Charlie’ Brown finishing runner-up that day.

Taupo’s Defending national cross country champion Brad Groombridge made a thrilling charge through the field at Norsewood to claim third overall, but he has since been consigned to the sideline with injury and not expected to make the trip to Mosgiel on Sunday.

That leaves the way clear for riders such as Whanganui’s Seth Reardon, Raglan’s Brandon Given, Rotorua’s Ethan Harris, Cambridge’s Callum Paterson or Hamilton’s Caleb Richardson to take advantage, not to mention the many South Island stars of the sport who will no doubt plan to make the most of racing on home turf, riders such as Jesse Wight, James Dickson or Ryan Crawford, to name a few.

Taupo’s Nathan Tesselaar was in hot form at Norsewood and he too could be a feature in the main race this Sunday and so should Hamilton’s Phil Goodwright, third overall in the nationals last year and making his return from injury this weekend.

Perhaps local motocross hero Sam Cuthbertson will take the opportunity for snatch some national cross-country glory with an appearance on Sunday.

The three-hour senior race will be preceded by a 90-minute junior race on Sunday and riders to watch out for here include round one winner Coby Rooks, from Raglan, his nearest rival Bryn Codd, from Napier, and Eltham’s defending national junior champion Adam Loveridge, along with South Island hotshots Katie Henery, Alex Gilchrist and Leo Clarke. 

Motorcycling New Zealand cross country commissioner Chris Smyth said the venue had been used before and should be “reasonably fast and open”.

“There may be some swampy patches to watch out for and plenty of tussock too. It should be a great track. Everybody seemed to enjoy it last year. With Brad Groombridge, and (Wairoa’s) Reece Lister too, dropping out with injury, it opens it up a bit for some of the other riders. I expect the points table will look quite different after this weekend. There are a lot of strong riders lining up on Sunday and anything can still happen.”

Only three of the four rounds are to be counted, with riders to discard their worst result of the four, making sure the championship will be tight until the finish.

The series is supported by The Dirt Guide, Oakley goggles, Bel Ray oils and Michelin tyres.

NZ Cross Country Championships calendar 2019:

Round One: Sunday, February 10 – Central Hawke’s Bay MCC
Round Two: Sunday, March 24 – Mosgiel District MCC
Round Three: Sunday, April 14 – Marlborough MCC
Round Four: Saturday May 25 – Taupo MCC

Glen Murray’s Sam ‘Charlie’ Brown (KTM), runner-up at round one and expected to again be among the front-runners on Sunday.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

There are a couple of new gunslingers in town and they mean business.

Raglan motorcyclist Jason Dickey has been tearing up the countryside in recent major cross-country events and his impressive win on steep farmland at Flemington, near Norsewood, on Sunday has set him up now for a potential national title win, with Dickey’s victory at this first of four rounds in the 2019 New Zealand Cross-Country Championship perhaps a forecast of what’s to come.

Despite being a little slow to get off the start line on Sunday, the 24-year-old dairy farmer soon had his 2018-model KTM 350XC-F bike humming.

Dickey quickly moved through the traffic to put himself in a three-way battle for the lead, banging handlebars with fellow KTM rider Sam Brown, from Glen Murray, and Husqvarna rider Reece Lister, from Wairoa.

It was a gruelling battle, the three-hour race taking its toll on several key of the more than 50 riders entered, including Lister, who was forced to withdraw when the pain from an earlier ankle injury became too great.

This left the way clear for Dickey and Brown to engage in a one-on-one battle for the win, Dickey eventually prevailing and crossing the finish line nearly a minute ahead of Brown.

Taupo’s defending national cross-country champion Brad Groombridge had problems too, a long way back in the field after he’d crashed on the opening lap, although he did manage to work his way back up to finish third overall.

This result has shown that Dickey and Brown are both ready to step forward and challenge Groombridge for his title.

“I caught up to the leaders after my bad start but then I went off the track and dropped back a few places again,” Dickey said. “When the leaders pitted I snatched the lead and managed to hold it from there. I didn’t have any real problems, just a couple of lappers holding me up at times. Visibility in the dust wasn’t too much of a problem for me.”

Moving dirt is something that Brown is particularly skilled at, the 28-year-old Brown working as a digger driver during the week, and he was doing that with his KTM 450XC-F at a terrific pace on Sunday:

“I had a pretty good start and was leading the race inside the first lap. But halfway around that first lap I suffered ‘arm pump’ and just had to let Jason (Dickey) and Reece (Lister) go by me. I had a bit of a surge after that and got back into a battle with those guys again. I was in front until I pitted. I nearly ran out of gas. I didn’t think I was going to last the lap. I had a large enough tank that I only needed one fuel stop (for the three-hour race), but it was pretty risky. I caught back up to Jason but then he looked back at me and pulled away again.”

The 90-minute junior race, held earlier in the day, was won by Raglan’s Cody Rooks, followed by Napier’s Bryn Codd and Eltham’s defending junior champion Adam Loveridge.

It is now six weeks until round two of the series, set for Mosgiel on March 24.

NZ Cross Country Championships calendar 2019:
Round One: Sunday, February 10 – Central Hawke’s Bay MCC
Round Two: Sunday, March 24 – Mosgiel District MCC
Round Three: Sunday, April 14 – Marlborough MCC
Round Four: Saturday, May 25 – Taupo MCC

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

Raglan’s Jason Dickey (KTM 350XC-F), outright winner of the senior race on Sunday.

Bike throttles will be twisted to the stops in the Central Hawke’s Bay region this weekend as the four-round 2019 New Zealand Cross Country Championships blast off.

The nation’s dirt bike elite will converge on farmland at 782 Ahiweka Road, Flemington, about 22 kilometres east of Norsewood, for round one of the series on Sunday (February 10) with all riders knowing a good result is essential if their respective bids for glory are to bear any fruit.

Points from three of the four rounds only are counted towards New Zealand titles in the various categories, with riders to discard their one worst score, but that still doesn’t leave a lot of room for error.

Outright senior winner last season was Taupo’s Brad Groombridge and he will be expected to rate among the favourites again this time around, especially considering his sharp performances at the parallel-but-separate New Zealand Motocross Championships, that series having just completed its opening round in Taranaki last weekend.

Groombridge was solid in his cross-country campaign last season, registering a 1-1-9-2 score-card over the series, and this was easily enough for him to edge out Taupo’s Nathan Tesselaar – who had a 4-3-1-3 score-card for 2018 – for the outright series win, the third consecutive year that Groombridge had taken the title.

Groombridge will of course be chasing title No.4 this year, although he knows to expect tough challenges from rivals such as Coatesville’s Sam Greenslade, Eketahuna’s Charlie Richardson, Titirangi’s Callan May, Hamilton’s Phil Goodwright, Bombay’s Richard Sutton, Stratford’s Josh Hunger, Raglan’s Brandon Given and Napier’s Mackenzie Wiig.

The talent pool is deep in the senior grade, with riders such as Raglan’s Jason Dickey, Te Awamutu’s Daniel White, Stratford’s Karl Roberts, Wairoa’s Reece Lister, Palmerston North’s James Galpin, Whanganui’s Seth Reardon and Cambridge pair Seton Head and Ashton Grey also likely to feature near the front.

In the junior grade, Eltham’s Adam Loveridge will be aiming to hold onto the title he won last year, although Napier’s Bryn Codd, the series leader early on in the 2018 series, will be looking to snatch back the ascendency.

Riders such as Cambridge’s Callum Paterson, Hamilton’s Caleb Richardson, Raglan’s Coby Rooks, Dannevirke’s Ben Paterson and Cambridge’s Michael Henry might have an influence on proceedings too.

“The venue on Sunday is a great track and should be pretty testing,” said Motorcycling New Zealand cross-country commissioner Chris Smyth. “It’s a property we have used in the past and about 25 kilometres in length. It features a bit of everything. It will be physically demanding, with steep rock ridges that will take some concentration from the riders. A few of the rider who were juniors last season may have decided to move up to the senior ranks and we just won’t know which individuals have done that until the day of the race. A few of the other juniors from last year will have remained in the junior ranks ad they are entitled to do that until aged 17, when the jump to senior grade in compulsory.”

The series is supported by The Dirt Guide, Oakley goggles, Bel Ray oils and Michelin tyres.

NZ Cross Country Championships calendar 2019:

Round One: Sunday, February 10 – Central Hawke’s Bay MCC
Round Two: Sunday, March 24 – Mosgiel District MCC
Round Three: Sunday, April 14 – Marlborough MCC
Round Four: Saturday, May 25 – Taupo MCC

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

For more information on this event, click over to http://motoevents.nz/nz-cross-country-championships-2019/