This season’s New Zealand Enduro Championships has so far been a battle of attrition, although it is still too early yet to be talking about winners and losers.
The fourth round of six in the 2017 series is set for Greta Valley, north of Christchurch, this Saturday and championship leader Angus Macdonald will be hoping a little home turf knowledge will help boost his position at the front.
Macdonald knows now that it’s his championship to lose as fierce rivals such as Taupo’s defending national champion Brad Groombridge, Helensville’s Tom Buxton and Titirangi’s Callan May have each suffered disappointment of one sort or another and have had their respective title bids blunted.
Groombridge crashed spectacularly at high speed, forcing him to withdraw from the day at round three of the series near Porirua in March, causing him to drop to fifth in the overall standings.
Buxton had his worst result of the series when he finished the day eighth overall at Porirua, although he still remains third overall in the series standings.
Aucklander May suffered engine failure in the final section of the day at Porirua and it dropped him to an unaccustomed 23rd overall in the expert grade that day and from fourth to 10th in the overall championship standings.
Macdonald’s younger brother, Hamish, won the day at Porirua, finishing just 34 seconds ahead of former national enduro and cross-country champion Adrian Smith, with Angus Macdonald and Cambridge pair Dylan Yearbury and Simon Lansdaal rounding out the top five.
Any of these men could feature again this weekend.
Smith is currently second in the standings, but he’ll need to win on Saturday or have Angus Macdonald suffer some bad luck if he is to advance his cause.
Meanwhile, it’s a battle of the ages in the fight for intermediate grade honours.
The leading intermediate grade riders after round three are 16-year-old Whitianga rider Blake Wilkins, 54-year-old Ellerslie rider Jeff Van Hout and 53-year-old Helensville man John Buxton.
The venue for Saturday is one hour’s drive north of Christchurch, at Overtons Road, signposted from the Greta Valley turn-off on SH1.
After this weekend’s racing, the series heads to Waitawhiti Station, east of Eketahuna, for round five on June 3, with the series wrapping up near Tokoroa just two days later, on June 5.