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Draper Makes It Three Wins in a Row

Draper Makes It Three Wins in a Row

NOVEMBER 21, 2017: It is a record three wins in a row for Husqvarna star Liam Draper after he again won the annual Dead Toad cross-country race in the Woodhill Forest, west of Auckland, on Sunday.

This event, which also doubled as the sixth round of seven in the separate NZXC Series, was also won by the 21-year-old Howick man in 2015 and in 2016 and his convincing win on Sunday made him the first rider to win it three times consecutively.

It was also Draper's third major success since returning to the race track after spending more than seven months recovering from injury.

However, since receiving the "all clear" to race again, he has wasted no time in building up his strength, speed and stamina.

He took his Husqvarna FC250 four-stroke to win the third round of four in the popular Woodhill Two-man Cross-country Series west of Auckland in September, then backed that up with another impressive win at round five of the NZXC Series at Matata last month.

"I managed to get a reasonable start on Sunday and then quickly picked off each of the riders ahead of me. I passed (Muriwai's) Luke Mobberley for second place and then (Helensville's) Tom Buxton for the lead about halfway through the opening lap," Draper explained.

"I put the hammer down for the next lap and a half and opened out a bit of a gap over the (more than 50) riders chasing me.

"The sand was so soft that it was very tiring to race and the track got quite rough in the end."

Manawatu's Paul Whibley, a two-time former Grand National Cross-country (GNCC) champion in the United States, was also fighting through traffic and he made his way up to second place, eventually finishing the five-lap race one minute and 10 seconds adrift of Draper.

Third overall was Titirangi's Callan May, with Mobberley and Buxton rounding out the top five.

Draper's win at the weekend is further vindication that he will be ready to push ahead with his plans to race in the United States next year.

"I crashed at the New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville in late January and snapped a tricep muscle in my left arm. I was in a sling for a long time and had to have surgery too, but I was still able to train and keep a core fitness," he explained.

Before his injury, Draper had already been planning to race in the United States and now those plans have simply been pushed on 12 months.

"I will be heading to South Carolina to race the Grand National Cross-country Series there in 2018 and I'm pretty excited about that."

Meanwhile, the seventh and final round of the NZXC series is set for Pahiatua on December 3.

by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com


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