The motorbikes have been cleaned and refuelled and it’s time now to go hard again, with round two of the popular Dirt Guide Cross-Country Series set to blast off near Tokoroa on Saturday.
The riders have had just three weeks to rest, recover and freshen their bikes after the competition opener on June 1, and they’ll need to be at their best again as the three-round series edges past the halfway stage this coming weekend.
The racing will be at the same venue that was used for round one, at Ohakuri, south of Tokoroa, so there should really be no surprises in store for the athletes and perhaps average speeds might even be a little higher.
“The course features a bit of everything… it’s supposed to be a challenge, but, at the same time, not overwhelming. We want all dirt bike owners to come and have a go at bush riding,” said Dirt Guide Series promoter Sean Clarke, of Tokoroa.
There will be plenty of top-level riders entered, with individuals such as Rotorua’s Bradley Lauder (Husqvarna), Wellington’s Jake Whitaker (KTM), Whitianga’s Blake Wilkins (Husqvarna), Whanganui’s Seth Reardon (Yamaha), Tokoroa’s Jake Wightman (KTM), Cambridge’s Ashton Grey (Yamaha) and Tauranga’s Reece Burgess (KTM), to name just a few, among those worth watching out for on the day.
Former Kiwi international Callan May, from Titirangi, won the two-hour senior race at round one, closely followed across the finish line by Reporoa’s Hadleigh Knight, just back from racing in Japan, and then Manawatu’s two-time former United States cross-country champion Paul Whibley.
Top junior riders to watch for this Saturday include Taupo’s Wil Yeoman (Yamaha), Oparau’s Hunter Scott (KTM), Rotorua’s Hunter Steens (Yamaha), Putaruru’s Jacob Dover (Yamaha) and Eketahuna’s Luke Brown (Yamaha).
The central North Island location of the Dirt Guide event virtually guarantees a good-sized entry list, with more than 180 riders showing up to the first round and a similar number expected this Saturday.
The competition has wide appeal, attracting a diverse range of talents, suiting novice riders but also enticing the cream of New Zealand’s dirt biking community to turn up in large numbers.
It is 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 pathways to top-level international competition.
In addition to the expert grade riders, the series caters also for junior riders and for intermediates, veterans and women as well.
The venue at Ohakuri 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.
The third and final round of the series is set for August 24, also at Ohakuri.
The final round doubles up also as round two of the parallel-but-separate NZ GNCC cross-country series, that competition piggy-backing onto select major events throughout the North Island.
The Dirt Guide Series is sponsored by Michelin, Bel Ray, Renthal, O’Neal, DRC, Zeta, Kiwi Rider magazine, Oakley, TCX boots, Yoshimura and Forest Trail Events.
Words and Photo by Andy McGechan