Groombridge keen to make an Enduro impact
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Taupo's Brad Groombridge reckons he is saving the best for last.
The seventh and final round of the New Zealand Enduro Championships is set for forestry land at Tar Hill, about 15 kilometres south of Tokoroa, on Sunday and that means, for Auckland's defending champion Chris Birch among others, it could be one of the most fiercely-fought battles of the entire campaign.
Glen Eden rider Birch has won every round thus far, and virtually has the title in the bag, only this weekend he'll come up against Taupo man Brad Groombridge, racing on his home turf and with a big point to prove.
Suzuki ace Groombridge is not a well-recognised enduro exponent, instead making a name for himself over the past few seasons as one of New Zealand's leading motocross racers, but he has occasionally dabbled in the parallel enduro and cross-country codes, and with quite some success.
Commitments to race major motocross events have prevented Groombridge from constructing an serious enduro championship campaign this season, although he did manage to squeeze a couple of national enduro championship events into his busy schedule in April.
That was when he took his trusted Bel Ray Pro Rider Suzuki RM-Z450 into battle at rounds four and five of the series in the South Island, at separate venues near Christchurch and Mosgiel.
Groombridge finished third and sixth overall at those respective two events, a huge surprise to many of the enduro regulars.
This Sunday's final round near Tokoroa will be just his third enduro race of the season, but it's also one he believes he can win.
"I really enjoyed the two enduro races down south," said Groombridge, a 24-year-old cycle shop salesman.
"Enduros are quite different from motocross ... you don't have to go flat out the whole time in enduro, although you are riding all day without much of a break.
"I've been trying to get used to pushing the bike hard among the trees and tree roots. There has been a little bit of rain up here recently, so it might be quite slippery on Sunday.
"I'll be riding the Suzuki RM-Z450 motocross bike, because it likes to be ridden hard, but with a bigger fuel tank fitted, just to give me more range.
"My fitness is pretty good at the moment, because I've been doing a lot of mountain-biking too, and I know I'll prefer the pumice soil near home more than the hard-pack soil I had to deal with sown south.
"Birch has won quite a few of these races in a row now and I'd really like to put a halt to that. That would be cool. Nobody is unbeatable you know?"