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Porirua forest to test enduro elite
It looks like it might be Groombridge versus Macdonald contest all over again in the New Zealand Enduro Championships.
Bay of Plenty’s Brad Groombridge was locked in a battle with Canterbury’s Hamish Macdonald and Howick’s Liam Draper all last season, before he finally broke free and clinched his first national enduro title.
This year the Taupo man hasn’t had to worry about Draper as he’d made plans to race overseas this season, although the Aucklander is now sidelined with injury.
But Groombridge’s still had to deal with Christchurch’s Macdonald, albeit a different one this time around - Hamish’s elder brother Angus Macdonald to be precise.
This Saturday the third round of six in the national series will take place just north of Wellington in the Akatarawa Forest in Pauatahanui, Porirua, and the steep and rocky course will be a stern test for even the most capable and experienced of off-road riders.
Helensville’s Tom Buxton has been consistently among the top five so far this season and he has been keeping the pressure on the two leaders, Macdonald and Groombridge.
The racing has been tight at the top and the Taupo rider knows he’s got a fight on his hands to retain the national crown.
The 26-year-old Groombridge finished runner-up to 19-year-old Angus Macdonald at the opening round south of Nelson in mid February.
However, Coatesville’s Sam Greenslade won the day at round two near Whangamata, with Angus Macdonald second, while Groombridge had to settle for third overall, and so Macdonald continues to lead the series outright.
Fourth overall at Whangamata was Hamish Macdonald, while Buxton and Titirangi’s Callan May rounded out the top half dozen.
Looking at the points table, Angus Macdonald has a meagre five-point lead over Groombridge in the championship standings, with Buxton in third position overall, just six points further back.
Buxton is a young man worth watching. He is a former national champion, having won the expert under-200cc two-stroke crown last season, and now he’s stepped up the pace to be challenging for outright honours.
Meanwhile, the leading riders in the intermediate grade after round two are Auckland’s Cameron Manley, Whitianga’s Blake Wilkins and another Aucklander, Jeff Van Hout.
After Porirua this weekend, the riders head south again for round four near Christchurch, on May 6, and then to Waitawhiti Station, east of Eketahuna, for round five on June 3.
Finally, the enduro nationals wrap up near Tokoroa just two days later, on June 5.
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