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Business as usual for Chris Birch

Business as usual for Chris Birch

It was business as usual for Auckland’s Chris Birch at the weekend.

Just a few days into 2014 and the reigning New Zealand Enduro Champion was already making good his New Year resolution to “keep myself on the podium”, the 33-year-old KTM ace enjoying back-to-back victories at Whangaruru, north of Whangarei, at the weekend.

Birch took his KTM 300 EXC to dominate the Crazy Cross enduro-cross event at The Farm, at Whangaruru, on Friday and then backed that up with another runaway win at the same venue the following day, this time racing to the top of the podium at the Root 100 extreme enduro.

Runner-up at both events was Kaikohe rider Mitchell Nield (Yamaha YZ125), with Pakuranga rider Jonathan Hill taking his KTM 250 XCF to third overall on Friday and Papakura’s Phillip Cheater riding his KTM 300 EXC to third position at Saturday’s event.

“This is sort of an off-season period for me, but the work never stops – there are always bikes to prepare, coaching to arrange and trying to fit in some cycling as well – but this was a great way to start the year,” said Birch.

“The Root 100 was way harder than I thought it would be ... it was really gruelling.

“It certainly wasn’t part of my summer holiday plan to do something as tough as this. I completely underestimated it.

“I have a pretty busy time coming up now before the nationals begin and I’m heading to Singapore this week to conduct some coaching schools over there. There’s lots of cool stuff coming up for me actually ... mostly involving me coaching, but that’s always good for my build-up for competition anyway. Any time spent riding the bike is good time.”

The six-round KTM New Zealand Enduro Championships, and Birch’s national title defence, are set to kick off at Whangamata on February 22, with rounds to follow at Wellington, the Riverhead Forest, Christchurch, Oparau and, finally, the series wraps up at Waimiha on May 10.


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