BIKE RACERS OF ALL AGES WILL BE CHURNING UP A NEW VENUE AT LAKE TAUPO’S SOUTHERN TIP
Icy grass, deep ruts and speed should make for exciting dirt bike racing near Turangi this weekend.
It was edge-of-the-seat racing at the NZ Motorcycle TT Championships last season and expect more of the same when the racers hit a new venue near Kuratau for the 2015 edition this weekend.
TT racing is like superbike racing on soil instead of tarmac — the racing is off-road and the competitors use dirt bikes but, unlike motocross, there are no steep hills or jumps to slow things down.
The entry list includes the stars of motocross, cross-country, enduro and even road-racing, All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and super motard. They will hit eyewatering speeds as they chase glory at this 16th annual Bike Torque Yamaha NZ TT championships.
Racing in the premier motorcycle category, open class bikes, went right down to the wire last season before Brad Groombridge (Taupo, Suzuki) finally tipped the balance of power his way, winning the open class ahead of Ethan Martens (Waitakere, Yamaha).
Groombridge celebrated a double win by also taking the enduro class trophy last year.
Motocross ace Groombridge is no stranger to winning in the flat track environment, after winning the MX1 and MX2 titles at the TT nationals in 2010. But for many of the other competitors it was the first time they’d stood on top of the podium.
Hamish Dobbyn (Auckland, MX2 class), Wade Taylor (Napier, ATV veterans), Levi Nairn (Auckland, Junior ATV 12-16 years), Kyle Chandler (Massey, Production 450cc ATV), Darren Capill (Whakatane, Veterans over-45), Mark Fuller (Te Kuiti, Veterans over-50), Nick Hornby (Hawera, 12-16 years 125cc/250cc) and James Scott (Oparua, Junior 8-12 years 85cc/150cc) were crowned national TT champions for the first time last season and they may each be hoping to defend their crowns.
“It was an awesome weekend of racing last year, with some mixed track conditions and there was some heavy rain at times,” said Groombridge. “It was great fun riding in the enduro bikes class, which was something a little bit different for me because I was coming up against riders I don’t usually face. I was stoked to come away with two class wins.”
And, while there was a flurry of fresh winners, there were also a handful of repeat winners at Kuratau last year.
Dylan Walsh (Christchurch) won the senior 125cc title to add to the Junior 13-16 years TT title he won in 2011, while Aaron King (Otorohanga) was another two-time winner, collecting the Junior 13-16 years 85cc/150cc TT title for a second time after he had previously won the class in 2012.
Mitch Rowe (New Plymouth) again won the Veterans over-35 years and the Classic Bikes titles, while Camo Keegan (Stratford) successfully defended his ATV Open class crown after heated battles with his brother Scott and Andrew Vincent (Papakura). Sarah Elwin (Taihape) again won the women’s motocross class. Other riders to watch for include Bjarne Fredricksen, Cam Dillon, Scotty Canham, Hadleigh Knight, Anthony Parker, Wiltshier, Sean Kelly and the Auckland pair of Kurtis Lilly and Liam Draper.
Organised by the Taumarunui Motorcycle Club, the venue is on State Highway 41, and will be signposted from the Kuratau Junction at SH 41 and 32. It is 7km from Kuratau School.