ENDURO RIDERS NEED TO SURVIVE JUST TWO MORE DAYS
The 2018 New Zealand Enduro Championships season will wrap up this Sunday afternoon, but not before the competitors have first had to survive back-to-back days of brutal dirt bike racing.
This weekend will be another tough double-header, with rounds four and five set for Saturday and Sunday respectively, and nothing perhaps can be certain until the final hour.
After three of the five rounds it is Taupo’s Brad Groombridge and Thames rider Natasha Cairns respectively who hold the advantage in the two championship divisions, the premier AA Grade (formerly called expert grade) and A Grade (formerly intermediate) classifications.
But neither Groombridge nor Cairns can rest easy this weekend, with difficult terrain awaiting them in the Santoft Forest, near Bulls, on Saturday and at Martinborough on Sunday, not to mention an impressive line-up of equally-talented and fired-up challengers.
Chasing hard to catch Groombridge in the AA Grade will be Wainuiomata’s Jake Whitaker, while Putaruru’s Phil Skinner will be trying to make life difficult for Cairns in the A Grade.
Riders such as Tokoroa’s Jake Wightman, Paeroa’s Chris Power, Taumarunui’s Cody Davey, Cambridge’s Beau Taylor and Stratford’s Josh Hunger may also fancy their chances of pinching overall victory in the AA Grade for the day on Saturday and/or Sunday, but, in reality, hopes of winning the title this year may be beyond their reach.
But there will still be plenty to fight for in the battle-within-the-battle for the various separate class honours, each one of them also on the line this weekend.
For example, Groombridge currently leads the combined under-200cc two-stroke class and under-300cc four-stroke class from Davey; Whitaker leads the over-200cc two-stroke class from Wightman; Power leads the over-300cc four-stroke class from Hunger and Rotorua’s Spence McClintock leads the veterans’ (over 40 years’) class from Hamilton’s Phil Singleton.
The same scenario applies in the A Grade, where Cairns leads the women’s class from Auckland’s Julia Williams and Taupo’s Deidre Kiernan; Masterton’s Sam Callaghan leads the under-300cc and under-200cc two-stroke class from Tokoroa’s Nick Wightman; Skinner leads the Veterans 2 (50-54 years’) class from Helensville’s John Buxton; Auckland’s Jeff Van Hout leads the Veterans 3 (over-55 years’) class and Masterton’s George Callaghan leads the Veterans 4 (40-49 years’) class.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan