Monday, April 11

MEAD WINS OPENING X-COUNTRY BATTLE

Rory Mead
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

The New Zealand Cross-country Championships kicked off near Blenheim on Saturday with Taupo’s Rory Mead leading a star-studded field of off-road motorcycling talent to the chequered flag.

Runner-up in this first round of four in the Suzuki-sponsored series was Mokau’s Adrian Smith, with Palmerston North’s defending champion Adam Reeves taking the third podium spot.

“It was very rocky and quite steep in places, but, overall, it was a great course,” said the 24-year-old Mead.

“I am off to race overseas in a few weeks, so I will miss two rounds of this championship,” he said, meaning Mead’s results over the first two rounds will probably act as a spoiler for the actual title contenders.

Fourth, fifth and sixth overall respectively on Saturday were Huntly’s Michael Vining, Raglan’s Brandon Given and Te Awamutu’s Mark Penny.

Always a contender and sure to be near the top when the series eventually winds up near New Plymouth in May, Suzuki star Penny was thrilled to be back in action after a 2010 season that was virtually a write-off.

Penny missed the entire cross country season last year with a knee injury, then returned in August to win the ironman class at the Taupo 4-hour, before breaking his hand a week later.

To finish sixth overall at the weekend was an encouraging result.

Round two of the series is set for farmland near Waipukurau this weekend.