Punishing Schedule for Groombridge
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There can't be too many individuals who could so effortlessly slip from one branch of motorsport to another and still be expected to feature among the podium positions.
But Bay of Plenty's Brad Groombridge is one such individual and, in fact, he has not only featured at the pointy end of competition in the national enduro and cross-country scenes this season, but earlier this year he was also a title contender in a third dirt biking code, motocross.
The Taupo man eventually settled for fifth overall in the premier MX1 class at the recently-completed New Zealand Motocross Championships and he then immediately refuelled his MC2 Suzuki Racing Team RM-Z450 bike and continued on with his New Zealand Cross-country Championships campaign.
He is unbeaten at the halfway stage of that four-round series, enjoying impressive wins at round one near Huntly in February and repeating the dose at round two near Mosgiel on the first weekend of April.
With points to be counted from only three of the four rounds, with riders to discard their one worst result, he heads to round three in Taranaki this weekend with his confidence at an all-time high.
There is the distinct possibility that he will wrap up his first national cross-country title with a round to spare and he may not even need to contest the final round near Nelson next month.
Perhaps a glutton for punishment, the 25-year-old Groombridge is also fully engaged in the parallel five-round New Zealand Enduro Championships and, after round three at Moonshine, near Upper Hutt, on Saturday, he finds himself well in contention for a national title win there too.
There have been three separate winners in the three rounds thus far of the enduro series – Christchurch's Hamish Macdonald won round one in the Greta Valley, near Christchurch, over the Easter Weekend, while Groombridge won round two at Mosgiel a couple of days later, before Howick's Liam Draper surprised everyone by winning the third round at Moonshine on Saturday.
Just a handful of points now separate these three riders at the top of the expert grade standings, which means anything can still happen in terms of the title chase.
"If third place is going to be my worst result in the enduro nationals this season, then that's still pretty good going," said a philosophical Groombridge. "But I obviously need to get winning again at the next two rounds.
"Moonshine was probably the most difficult event for me. It was slippery, rocky and steep. It's not terrain I'm used to and the rounds coming up will suit me better."
The national enduro championships continue with round four at Waimiha on June 4 and, finally, it all wraps up near Tokoroa on June 5.
After this weekend's third round of the cross-country nationals near Eltham, in Taranaki, the riders head to Nelson for the final round on May 14.
"It has been full-on, so busy for me over the past few weeks that I really haven't had much time to do extra riding during the week and have not been able to prepare properly for the different codes," said Groombridge.
"There's a small break for me after the cross-country race in Taranaki on Saturday and so I will be able to get some enduro practice done and come out firing for the last two enduro rounds."
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