It’s Six of the Best

Published: Wed 20 Dec 2006 12:25 AM
It’s Six of the Best
Yamaha rider Heath Howlett, fourth in the expert over-300cc four-stroke class last season and expected to be a frontrunner in 2007 season too, Photo by Andy McGechan.
DECEMBER 20, 2006: Go hard or go home could well be the catch-cry as this season’s New Zealand Enduro Championships kick off at Tutamoe, near Dargaville, in February.
Six of the most difficult and demanding courses on the planet will greet riders in the national series this season and that’s just what the riders want and should expect, a true test of strength and character, man and machine against the elements.
The six-round series, sponsored this season by Yamaha, Kiwi Rider magazine, Mitas, Acerbis and AJC helmets, is the domestic answer to the International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) which was staged in New Zealand for the first time in November.
“I just hope the sport doesn’t go flat following the huge thing that was the ISDE,” said Motorcycling New Zealand enduro commissioner Sean Clarke.
“I’m confident, though, that the momentum created by the ISDE will keep going,” said Clarke, himself a many-times New Zealand enduro champion.
Clarke will be competing again this year, this time in the under-300cc four-stroke class. The 39-year-old Clarke finished fourth in the expert over-200cc two-stroke class last season.
He’ll have his work cut out too, with so much talent in the New Zealand off-road scene and many riders keen to put into practice some of the things they learned while racing the ISDE near Taupo.
ISDE gold medal winner Chris Birch (Waimauku) will be back to defend his expert over-200cc two-stroke title.
ISDE silver medallist Karl Power (Auckland) will again go head-to-head with cross-country ace Cam Smith (Marton) as he attempts to defend his title in the expert over-300cc four-stroke class and Hokianga’s Mitchell Nield will be battling to retain his expert under-300cc four-stroke crown.
Pauanui’s Dene Humphrey (Yamaha) won the expert under-200cc two-stroke division last season but the man from the Coromandel Peninsular will struggle to defend his title as injury forces him to join the championships late this time around.
“I’ll be there for the latter rounds,” he confirmed. “I won’t be out of plaster until the end of February and may need another operation on my injured knee. It all takes time. I hope to be back in action by May,” said Humphrey, who works as a test rider for Kiwi Rider magazine.
This leaves the way clear for Whangamata’s Jason Davis (KTM) to win this class, although he’ll have fellow ISDE experts Dhugal McLaren (Thames Valley) and Damon Nield (Hokianga) to contend with.
The series is coordinated by Auckland’s Shaun Stanbridge, phone 09-479-1490.
The six-round New Zealand Enduro Championships schedule is:
Round one, Tutamoe, Dargaville, February 3, 2007.
Round two, Kapi Mana, Wellington, March 10.
Round three, Waimiha, Te Kuiti, April 7.
Round four, Santoft, Palmerston North, August 5.
Round five, Gwavas, Hawke’s Bay, September 16.
Round six, Woodhill, Auckland, September 29.

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