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Smith Makes it Two In a Row

Smith Makes it Two In a Row

JANUARY 14, 2014: With two wins from two starts, Mokau’s Adrian Smith is fast heading towards a successful defence of his Bel Ray Cross-country Championships title.

The 27-year-old New Zealand cross-country champion won the Bel Ray series last season, making him an obvious favourite to repeat the feat in 2014, and after two of four rounds thus far this season, it seems a safe bet that he will hold onto the No.1 number plate.

Smith took his Blackwood BikesportNZ.com Yamaha YZ250 to win the dusty series opener near Huntly in December, leading home Raglan’s national cross-country No.2 Jason Dickey, and it was a virtual carbon copy of that with his win at round two near Huntly on Sunday. 

Points are counted from only three of the four rounds and that means the South Waikato sheep and beef farmer is possibly just one race away from wrapping it up for 2014.

Dickey finished the six-lap, two-hour marathon nearly two minutes behind Smith on Sunday, with Hamilton’s Andrew Charleston, Rotorua’s Scott Birch, Pukekawa’s Craig Brown and Te Awamutu’s Mark Penny rounding out the top six. 

“The track was well set-up and I really enjoyed it,” said Smith afterwards. “The course had steep sections, tight stuff and plenty of areas that flowed. It had a bit of everything really.

“Jason had a crash while chasing me and that caused him to drop back a bit, but, when I came in to the pits to refuel, he swept past me. I caught him again about half a lap later and managed to retake the lead.”

Smith saved his best for last; producing the day’s four fastest lap times over the final four laps and creating a safe winning margin.

Charleston put in a late charge too, passing Penny, Brown and Birch on the last lap to secure the final podium position.

“He (Charleston) is riding really well at the moment. He’s only a youngster and I think he’ll be a real threat to me in the future,” said Smith.

In the 90-minute junior race staged earlier in the day, Pukekawa’s Isaac Clark won ahead of Te Kuiti’s Sean Kelly and Raglan’s Jaan Anderson.

Round three of the Bel Ray series is set for Waikaretu, in North Waikato, on February 9.

The Bel Ray series is a stand-alone competition, but is also an ideal warm-up for the nationals which begin next month.

The four-round New Zealand Cross-country Championships kick off in the Taranaki region on February 16, with rounds to follow in Huntly, Westland and Marlborough.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com

ENDS

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