FRIENDSHIP WILL BE PUT ASIDE, FOR TWO HOURS AT LEAST
It would be interesting to be a back-seat passenger when Auckland dirt bike buddies Callan May and Sam Greenslade travel away to motorcycling events around the country.
It’s not hard to picture the laughing as the pair tell each other tall stories, or imagine the grimacing at the jibes and trash talk.
The pair regularly load up Greenslade’s van for trips south to places such as Tokoroa and Taupo, but, when they arrive at the various forest or farmland venues, they quickly switch from two guys on a ‘roadie’ to a couple of fierce rivals, joint favourites for the win.
It is then that the friendship is put aside, albeit briefly, at least for the two-hour duration of a race.
Titirangi’s May (Yamaha YZ250FX) and Coatesville’s Greenslade (KTM SX-F 250) have been banging handlebars all season as they swap positions at the front of several separate competitions.
May has a slight advantage at the moment because he is the clear leader in two different series — the NZXC Cross-country Series and the Woodhill Two-Man Series, which he contests as a solo rider — but Greenslade is never far behind and the two share the lead in a third competition too, the Dirt Guide Cross-country Series.
There are still three rounds left in the NZXC series and one round to go in the Woodhill competition, but there is just one event remaining in the Dirt Guide series too, after the second round of three was held near Atiamuri just over a week ago, and that’s where things have become interesting.
May, a 24-year-old electrician, won the first round of the Dirt Guide Series near Tokoroa in June, with training buddy Greenslade, a 25-year-old financial advisor, ending the day runner-up.
But the finishing order was reversed at round two, on the damp forest course near Atiamuri, with Greenslade winning the two-hour race by just 32 seconds from May, while former Kiwi international Paul Whibley of Manawatu, took his Yamaha YZ450FX to cross the line in third place.
Coatesville's Sam Greenslade (KTM SX-F 250), closing in on his friend and rival.
Howick’s Liam Draper and Muriwai’s Luke Mobberley rounded out the top five.
This means that May and Greenslade now have identical points and the eventual Dirt Guide trophy winner will be decided at the third and final round near Tokoroa in two weeks (on October 2).
“I was in about second or third place after the shotgun blast start to the race (at Atiamuri),” said May.
“Then I had a big crash after some tree roots grabbed my ankle and that’s when Sam blew past me. I got the lead back after I managed a quicker fuel stop than him, but then I crashed again a couple more times again when lappers got in my way.
“It is going to be hard-out at the final round (of the Dirt Guide Series) with Sam and me on equal points now. Bring it on I say.
“But, no matter how it all works out, I can’t complain. It’s been a great season for me already. To be leading in three competitions is pretty decent stuff.”
Greenslade played it smart to take the win at Atiamuri, slowing himself down to avoid a disaster as the track became increasingly treacherous.
“The rain made the track very slick,” he explained. “The powdery corners became quite slippery. I backed off the pace a bit to avoid crashing ... a win by one second or a win by one minute makes no difference in the end and I just wanted to make sure I stayed upright and won.”
Meanwhile, Thames rider Natasha Cairns was again the first women across the line at Atiamuri, finishing in 30th place overall, as she again won the women’s class and she leads that from Otorohanga’s Jan-Maree Pool (who was 50th overall at Atiamuri) and Tauranga’s Janelle Walker (58th overall).
Te Awamutu pair Dan White and Rachael Archer finished first and second respectively in the 90-minute junior race earlier in the day at Atiamuri, with Cambridge’s Beau Taylor claiming third place.
Cambridge’s Zara Gray won the novice grade at Atiamuri, finishing ahead of Taharoa’s Summer Muru and Tokoroa’s Madison Clarke.
The top three finishers in the mini grade that day were Rotorua’s Daniel Bates, Cambridge’s Lewy Taylor and New Plymouth’s Josh Houghton.