PLENTY STILL TO FIGHT FOR AT DIRT GUIDE FINAL ROUND

Cambridge rider Ashton Grey (Yamaha WR250F), is in the runner-up position after two of three rounds.

There is perhaps no looking past Yamaha’s Paul Whibley as the man most likely to win this season’s Dirt Guide Cross-country Series title.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t several other riders extremely capable of knocking the Kiwi legend off his perch at the third and final round of the popular dirt bike competition this weekend.

Manawatu man Whibley has won both rounds of the 2017 Dirt Guide Series thus far, although fellow Yamaha riders Ashton Grey and Callan May are not too far behind in the overall points analysis.

A small slip-up by Whibley at the forestry venue of Ohakuri, about halfway between Taupo and Tokoroa, on Sunday afternoon could see either of these young men swoop in and steal away the main trophy.

The two-hour senior grade race on Sunday also doubles as round three of the parallel-but-separate NZXC cross-country series and so that’s two reasons why winning this weekend will be so important to many of the riders. 

With points to be applied towards both contests, the outcome of the marathon dirt bike battle on Sunday could be pivotal on several counts.

A flat tyre, a crash or a small miscalculation with re-fuelling are just three ways that Whibley could come unstuck on Sunday, not to mention the fact that Cambridge’s Grey and Titirangi’s May, along with several other top riders such as Helensville’s Tom Buxton (KTM) and Te Awamutu pair Kevin Archer (KTM) and Daniel White (Kawasaki), are all capable of beating Whibley without any such “lottery ticket” being dealt out.

Cambridge teenager Grey is in the best position to challenge Whibley’s dominance, having finished third at round one in May and then fourth at round two last month. These results have Grey second in the series standings, just 12 points behind Whibley, and so anything is still possible.

“I have looked up to Paul (Whibley) for a long time,” said the 17-year-old Grey. “But I’m sure he can be beaten.

“He’s a hero of mine and helped to train me this year. I truthfully don’t think I’d be able to stay with him in a close battle though. I think he’s a lot fitter than me,” said the 17-year-old, who works at Blackwood Yamaha in Cambridge.

Grey was only aged about eight or nine when Whibley was winning major titles internationally, but he has developed over recent years and is now himself a regular front-runner on the national scene.

Meanwhile, the Dirt Guide Series has wide appeal and also caters for the sport’s junior and mini riders.

Many eyes will focus on the exploits of Whibley, Grey, May and company in the senior action on Sunday afternoon, but perhaps just as many will be interested in witnessing the outcome of the 90-minute junior race that is to be staged earlier in the day.

Cambridge’s Beau Taylor leads the junior competition after two rounds thus far, with fellow Cambridge rider Callum Paterson and Tokoroa’s Nick Wightman chasing him hard.

The junior race begins at 9.30am, with the senior race to follow at 12.30pm. 

The Dirt Guide Series is sponsored by Michelin, Bel Ray, Renthal, O’Neal, DRC, Zeta, Kiwi Rider magazine, Oakley, TCX boots, Yoshimura, Forest Trail Events and SatCo Logging Equipment.

 

Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com

SECOND ROUND OF THREE IS THIS WEEKEND

Luke Mobberley (Yamaha YZ250), runner-up rider at the opening round of the popular Dirt Guide Cross-country Series last month.

You could be forgiven for thinking the going will be tough when you hear that the venue is a placed called Tar Hill.

But Sunday’s off-road motorcycling event south of Tokoroa should be neither sticky nor too steep.

Besides this, dirt bike riders are a tough breed anyway and they also know that the man who organises the Dirt Guide Cross-country Series, Tokoroa’s Sean Clarke, is not a cruel man.

It is the second round of three for the popular Dirt Guide Series on Sunday, the course at Tar Hill on forestry land about 12 kilometres south of Tokoroa, and Clarke has promised tracks that will be both fun and flowing.

“We have not been at Tar Hill for about a year now, so all the tracks will be nice and fresh,” he said.

The 2017 edition of the Dirt Guide Series kicked off at Ohakuri – about halfway between Tokoroa and Taupo – last month (May 14) and such was the course that day that riders on all capacities of bike were competitive with one another, the eventual winner of the two-hour senior race actually riding one of the smallest bikes in the field.

Former Kiwi international and former national cross-country champion Paul Whibley, of Taikorea, took a 2013-model Yamaha YZ125 to win that day, while runner-up was Muriwai’s Luke Mobberley (Yamaha YZ250), with Cambridge’s Ashton Grey (Yamaha WR250F), Titirangi’s Callan May (Yamaha YZ250F) and Hamilton’s Chris Power (Honda CRF450) rounding out the top five.

Last season’s Dirt Guide Series winner, Coatesville’s Sam Greenslade (KTM EXC-F 250), had been in the runner-up position, but he ran out of fuel just one kilometre from the end of lap four.

With the series running over three rounds this year, there are no ‘discard’ results and all rounds are counted towards the final tally, meaning it will be imperative for trophy hopefuls to overcome the likes of Whibley, Mobberley and Grey this weekend if they hope to push on and claim victory at the final round.

Talent runs deep at the sharp end of competition, with Rotorua’s Bradley Lauder (KTM), Wellington’s Jake Whitaker (KTM), Te Awamutu’s Kevin Archer (KTM), Waimauku’s Jake Wightman (KTM), Masterton’s Allan Gannon (Yamaha), Eketahuna’s Charlie Richardson (Husqvarna), Helensville’s Tom Buxton (KTM) and Cambridge’s Ashton Grey (Yamaha), to name just a few, among those worth watching.

In addition to the senior 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 section, although Te Awamutu’s Rachael Archer will also be a stand-out for the women.
Sunday’s 90-minute junior race starts at about 9.30am, with the two-hour senior race to start at about midday.

The third and final round of the Dirt Guide Series is due back at Ohakuri again, on July 9.

 

Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com

Gomez conquers Erzberg Rodeo

Spaniard wins second Red Bull Hare Scramble in Austrian open-pit mine.

There were 500 riders on the start line on Sunday, but only 25 managed to finish the motorcycle event within the four-hour time window. Alfredo Gomez came out on top, racing in a record time of just 2 hours and 17 seconds.

Every year, the Red Bull Hare Scramble puts the world’s best riders to the test like no other race on the Enduro calendar. It offers steep climbs, scree fields and forest stages; all paced by infamous Machine, Bathtub, Carl’s Dinner, Green Hell and Dynamite sections.

Shortly after the start, three-time Erzberg winner Jonny Walker (GBR) took the lead ahead of Wade Young (RSA), Cody Webb (USA) and Billy Bolt (GBR). But Gomez quickly appeared on Walker’s heels followed by Webb and Bolt, while Young fell back into fifth.

At the Carl‘s Dinner section, Gomez finally overtook Walker. Last year’s winner Graham Jarvis (GBR) also came back charging, leaving Walker in his dust. But Gomez kept on building his lead. Jarvis tried to defend his title, but Gomez was just too strong and after 2 hours and 17 minutes, the Spaniard reached the Erzberg Rodeo Arena in first. The chequered flag was waved, crowds cheered, and Gomez enjoyed his second triumph here, two years after his first win in 2015.

Thanks to a sensational comeback, Jarvis crossed the line in second place 3 minutes and 22 seconds later. Webb took third to complete the podium. 

Want to watch the action? Watch the full event on Youtube HERE

ERZBERG RODEO STANDINGS*
Alfredo Gomez (ESP) 02:17:06

Graham Jarvis (GBR) +00:03:22

Cody Webb (USA) +00:05:04

Wade Young (RSA) +00:09:31

Jonny Walker (GBR) +00:10:41

Paul Bolton (GBR) +00:15:53

Billy Bolt (GBR) +00:18:24

Manuel Lettenbichler (GER) +00:24:47

Mario Roman (ESP) +00:30:20

Travis Teasdale (GBR) +00:34:06

*Subject to change – for final standings, check out www.erzbergrodeo.at

CLASH OF CHAMPIONS AT FINAL ROUND

Ben Townley (Suzuki RM-Z450), was the day’s big winner at the final round of the cross-country nationals.

 

It was a real clash of champions when the 2017 New Zealand cross-country nationals wrapped up near Cambridge on Saturday.

Taupo’s Brad Groombridge has already successfully defended his senior title, the 26-year-old wrapping it up at the penultimate round in Marlborough two weeks earlier, but there was still plenty to fight for with Groombridge (Suzuki RM-Z450) keen to make it a clean sweep of wins similar to the unbeaten run he enjoyed in the same series last season.

In addition, there were also the individual class titles and the overall junior crown still to be decided on Saturday.

With three wins from three starts and only three of the four rounds to be counted, as riders discard their one worst result, it meant Groombridge could not be beaten for the senior crown on Saturday, but, with Tauranga’s former world motocross champion Ben Townley turning up on his own Suzuki RM-Z450, it was never going to be easy for him to make it a clean sweep of victories this time around.

Mokau’s four-time former national cross-country champion Adrian Smith was also in attendance, bringing his Yamaha YZ250FX to the party, and also staking his claim for final round bragging rights.

And that’s how it ended up, Townley breaking free from a fight with Smith to take the chequered flag, winning the three-hour marathon by one minute and 39 seconds, with Groombridge battling back through traffic after a massive crash on the second of eight laps to eventually claim the third podium position for the day.

With Townley a non-starter at any of the earlier rounds, he had no hope of winning the title outright, but, remarkably, his one race win was enough for him to claim 13th overall for the series.

The 32-year-old Townley said he really enjoyed the rare outing.

“I had so much fun today, but I am feeling quite knackered. I suffered a bit of cramp at one stage today, but managed to shake that off.”

In finishing runner-up on Saturday, Smith boosted himself from eighth overall in the series at the start of the day to an eventual final ranking of fourth.

Coatesville’s Sam Greenslade finished 10th overall on Saturday and this became his one race to discard, his three runner-up finishes at the previous rounds already ensuring he finished the championship runner-up to Groombridge.

Taupo’s Nathan Tesselaar compiled at 3-3-4-6 score-card over the four rounds, earning him third overall for the series, four points ahead of Smith.

Groombridge won the over-300cc four-stroke class title; Smith won the over-200cc two-stroke class; Raglan’s Brandon Given won the under-200cc two-stroke class; Kotemaori’s Reece Lister won the under-300cc four-stroke class; Stratford’s Karl Roberts won the veterans’ 35-44 years’ class; New Plymouth’s Dougy Herbert won the veterans’ over-45 years’ class and Otorohanga’s Jan-Maree Pool took the women’s class honours.

Meanwhile, there was also plenty of interest in the 90-minute junior cross-country race that was held earlier in the day.

There were perhaps as many as four or five riders in contention for the outright win, but, in the end, it came down to a battle between Te Awamutu’s Daniel White and Raglan’s Logan Shaw.

Whomever finished best on Saturday out of these two riders would claim the crown and Shaw had been looking the likely winner until, on the final lap, he crashed, sensationally handing the title to White.

Saturday’s junior race was won by Oparau’s James Scott, who finished ahead of Cambridge’s Seton Head and then White, but, like Townley, Scott was a non-starter at the series’ earlier rounds and so was never in contention for the title.

As well as winning the junior grade overall, White won the over-200cc four-stroke class; Eltham’s Adam Loveridge won the over-100cc two-stroke class and Dannevirke’s Ben Paterson won the under-100cc class.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com

FINAL ROUND WILL DECIDE THE CLASS WINNERS

Otorohanga’s Jan-Maree Pool (KTM), who has already wrapped up the women’s cross-country title for 2017.

There will be no holding back at the fourth and final round of the 2017 New Zealand Cross-country Championships near Cambridge this weekend.

Taupo’s Brad Groombridge has already made a success of his senior title defence, the 26-year-old wrapping it up at the penultimate round in Marlborough two weeks ago, but there is still plenty to fight for with individual class titles and the overall junior crown yet to be decided.

With three wins from three starts and only three of the four rounds to be counted, as riders discard their one worst result, it means Groombridge cannot be beaten for the 2017 crown, adding that to his first cross-country title he won last season, but there’s still the opportunity for others to claim a few bragging rights at round four near Cambridge this Saturday.

Riders such as Coatesville’s Sam Greenslade, Taupo’s Nathan Tesselaar, Raglan’s Jason Dickey and Te Kauwahata’s Jacob Brown, to name a few, will all fancy their chances of snapping Groombridge’s win streak on Saturday. 

Brown currently leads the race for over-200cc two-stroke class honours; Nelson’s Jackson Walker leads the under-200cc two-stroke class; Groombridge has already won the over-300cc four-stroke class; Kotemaori’s Reece Lister leads the under-300cc four-stroke class; Stratford’s Karl Roberts has already won the veterans’ 35-44 years’ class; New Plymouth’s Dougy Herbert leads the veterans’ over-45 years’ class and Otorohanga’s Jan-Maree Pool has already wrapped up the women’s class title.

Saturday’s senior three-hour race is due to start at midday.

Meanwhile, there will also be plenty of interest in watching the 90-minute junior cross-country race, due to start at 10am on Saturday, with several riders in a strong position to claim the title outright.

Waikato’s Seton Head leads the points standings, but, with only three of the four rounds to be counted, it means Te Awamutu’s Daniel White, Raglan pair Logan Shaw and Coby Rooks, Eltham’s Adam Loveridge and Hamilton’s Caleb Richardson all stand a good chance of winning the crown  for 2017.

Cambridge rider Head currently leads the junior four-stroke class; Loveridge leads the junior 125cc class and Stratford’s Conor Attrill-Mundt leads the junior 85cc class.

 

Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com