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Equal Greatness from Enduro Pair

Equal Greatness from Enduro Pair

Auckland’s Chris
Birch (KTM), on his way to overall victory on Saturday.
Photo by Andy McGechan,
Auckland’s Chris Birch (KTM), on his way to overall victory on Saturday. Photo by Andy McGechan,


APRIL 9, 2007: It does not get any closer than this.

Even after five solid hours of gruelling off-road action, nothing could separate Chris Birch from Karl Power at round three of the Yamaha-sponsored New Zealand Motorcycle Enduro Championships at Waimiha, in the King Country, on Saturday.

Incredibly, the two Kiwi internationals clocked exactly the same time, right down to the last second, after five “special tests” over a steep and rugged farmland course that directed the riders down rutted trails and also sent them weaving between roots and pine trees and through blackberry-infested undergrowth.

Such an outcome is rare and it had the organisers reaching for the rule book as the computer spat out the results at the end of the day that showed Birch (KTM) and Power (Husaberg) had identical times. Birch got the nod on a count-back of test wins, the KTM man winning it 3-2.

The two riders, both from Auckland, topped their own separate bike classes at Waimiha, but it’s the battle to win the series as top individual overall, and the bragging rights that go with it, that is the key focus for Birch and Power.

Birch won outright at round one near Dargaville in February and Power was overall winner at round two near Porirua last month.

With the pair sharing wins throughout the series, it may even take a flip of the coin to determine the outright honours after the final round in the Woodhill Forest, near Auckland, in September.

“I’m still leading my class but my aim is to win outright,” declared Power afterwards. “I want to finish in front of Chris (Birch) as much as I can.”

Birch was downbeat after Saturday’s racing, despite the class and outright win.

“I don’t feel I rode that well,” he said. “I started a new job during the week and I didn’t feel I was that sharp today. It was hard to get a flow going.”

With the series now at the halfway stage and only five of the six rounds to count for titles -- riders to drop their worst points scores – the calculators are already out for many competitors.

Mathematically-speaking, Power has the Expert over-300cc four-stroke class virtually in the bag, the 22-year-old bike mechanic unbeaten in three rounds thus far.

Birch, meanwhile, is quickly making up ground lost in the Expert over-200cc two-stroke class when he skipped round two to celebrate his marriage to long-time girlfriend Monica.

That missed round will be his discard event for the series and, because he’s won the other two events in this class, he’s favoured to snatch the honours from current points leader Mitchell Nield (Hokianga, Husqvarna) by series end.

Whitby’s Rory Mead (KTM) continues to lead the Expert under-200cc class, despite being beaten to the finish by Whangamata’s Jason Davis (KTM) on Saturday, while Paengaroa’s Phil Singleton (Honda) has taken over the lead of the Expert under-300cc four-stroke class after multi-champion Sean Clarke (Tokoroa) was forced to miss the event because of injury.

With a consistent 2-2-1 score-line in the three rounds thus far, Tauranga’s Terry Cameron (Gas Gas) has taken over the lead in the Expert veteran’s (over-35) category.

The series is sponsored by Yamaha, Kiwi Rider magazine, Acerbis, HJC Helmets, Mitas and supported by Motorcycling New Zealand.

The remaining three rounds of the six-round New Zealand Enduro Championships schedule are:

Round four, Santoft, Palmerston North, August 5.
Round five, Gwavas, Hawke’s Bay, September 16.
Round six, Woodhill, Auckland, September 29.

The series is coordinated by Auckland’s Shaun Stanbridge, phone 09-479-1490.


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