Groombridge impresses again
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It was an almost clinical display at the weekend as Taupo's Brad Groombridge dominated the annual New Zealand Motorcycle TT Championships near Kuratau for a second consecutive season.
Even racing on a fresh circuit, about 15 kilometres further down the road towards Taumarunui, from where he celebrated victory last season, the 24-year-old was even more impressive this time around.
He successfully defended both his national TT enduro class and MX1 class crowns at the weekend and was perhaps unlucky not to make it three New Zealand titles when he raced a wrecked-then-resurrected 2007-model Suzuki RM250 two-stroke in the MX2 (250cc) class as well.
He had to settle for sixth overall in the MX2 class – that title won instead by Tauranga's Aaron Wiltshier – because of "jetting problems leading to a DNF in one race" although he was competitive even on the out-dated bike, impressively finishing runner-up in two of the four races he did finish.
But Groombridge had no real problems in the other two classes he contested, racing a Suzuki RMX450Z in the enduro class and a Suzuki RM-Z450 in the MX1 class.
He won all five races from five starts in the enduro bike class, ending the championship comfortably ahead of Howick's Liam Draper, and he posted an unbeatable score-card of 1-1-1-1-2 in an MX1 class that was laden with heavy-hitters such as last season's runner-up Ethan Martens, former world motocross No.2 Josh Coppins, just-named 2015 Motocross of Nations New Zealand team rider Kayne Lamont and leading national superbike roadracer Sloan Frost.
"Yeah, it was a pretty good weekend," said Groombridge. "I think my best result was when I won the last race on Saturday. I crashed near the start and went from last place to pass everybody and take over the lead with almost a lap to go."
Lamont was also a dual-class campaigner and he took his 250cc bike to win the all-capacities feature final race at the end of the weekend.
With a staggered start – 125cc bike riders set away first, 250cc bike riders in a second wave, about 20 seconds later, and the 450ccc bike campaigners let loose after another 20 seconds – Lamont had a timing advantage over Groombridge.
And that's how the feature final finished, Lamont winning that stand-alone race ahead of Groombridge.
"Another lap and I might have taken the win in that feature race," Groombridge shrugged.
"I love (flat paddock) TT racing. It's grass-roots stuff for me and I grew up racing events like these.
"I just did the MX2 class for a bit of fun really. I had only bought the RM250 last week and it had a blown engine. But the jetting was all wrong so I pulled out of one race and that cost me a lot of points."
Groombridge's next assignment is to race the NZXC series, a new five-round cross-country series that heads to Taikorea, on the outskirts of Palmerston North, for round two on Saturday.
"I have not made my mind up about racing this one yet. But it sounds like it will be fun to do."