Final throw of the dice for Enduro hopefuls
It is the final big gamble for enduro title hopefuls this weekend and the riders will even get two throws of the dice.
Likely winners revealed themselves after the fifth of seven rounds in this season's Yamaha and Mitas Tyres-sponsored New Zealand Enduro Championships near Masterton last month, but it all now comes down to what happens at this weekend's double-header, the final two rounds near Hokitika.
There is actually only a small element of luck involved in this sport, with rider skill and bike reliability the key factors in this most demanding of dirt bike codes, although inclement weather and diabolical terrain could certainly influence the outcome.
Racing is Friday and Saturday and the start location for both days at Seaview Hall, Seaview. The main checkpoints and terrain test starts and finishes are at Kawhaka Station, 1616 Old Christchurch Road, and leading championship contenders such as Whanganui's Seth Reardon, Cambridge's Beau Taylor, Rotorua's Bradley Lauder and Wainuiomata's Jake Whitaker will each be hoping for a solid finish to the series.
There have been different winners at each of the five rounds thus far, but not all of these riders have contested every round and so, with Reardon, Taylor, Lauder and Whitaker among those who have featured at every event this season, it gives them a distinct advantage in terms of the championship.
Reardon is favoured to take the main title when it all wraps up on Saturday afternoon, the 21-year-old currently enjoying a massive 23-point advantage over nearest challenger Taylor.
"The two courses this weekend will feature forestry and farm tracks, creek beds, swamp, old logging tram roads, stock and deer trails and should be both challenging and enjoyable for the riders," said Motorcycling New Zealand enduro commissioner Justin Stevenson.
"The venue will have a bit of everything and there is lots of shingle on the course, so it probably won't matter too much if it's wet. There's plenty of clay and mud too, so riders should not expect a nice, dry track.
"Friday will be a normal format enduro, but Saturday will be a sprint format, with longer terrain tests."
All rounds count for the "overall" series winner, but only six of the seven rounds are to be counted for the various class titles.
Leading riders in the various classes so far are Reardon (E1, up to 200cc 2-stroke, up to 300cc 4-stroke); Stratford's Josh Hunger (E2, 201cc+ 2-stroke); Whitaker (E3, 301cc + 4-stroke); Whangarei's Adrian Broughton (Vet 1, 40yrs +); Thames' Natasha Cairns (women); Masterton's Philip Bly (Vet 2, 50-54yrs); Auckland's Jeff Van Hout (Vet 3, 55yrs +).
New Zealand Top Trail Riders Championship leaders are Tokoroa's Nick Wightman (TTR1 up to 200cc 2-stroke, up to 300cc 4-stroke); Pakotai's Josh Alexander (TTR2 201cc + 2-stroke, up to 301cc+ 4-stroke); Hamilton's Adrian Revell (Vet 4 40yrs +).
The 2019 Yamaha NZ Enduro Championships are supported by Mitas tyres, Macaulay Metals, Best Build Construction, Silver-bullet, Kiwi Rider magazine, Dirt Rider Downunder magazine and Moto Events NZ.