Tuesday, June 21

THREE-WAY BATTLE FOR DIRT BIKE TITLE

Napier’s John O’Dea (Suzuki)
Words and Pic By Andy McGechan

An exciting three-way battle is likely to define the motorcycle racing near Whakamaru this weekend.

It is the third and final round of the popular Dirt Guide Cross-Country series on Saturday and, as expected, the hunt for the title will go down to the wire with at least three riders all vying for the main prize – Auckland’s Callan May (Yamaha YZ125), Napier’s John O’Dea (Suzuki RM-Z450) and Tauranga’s Reece Burgess (Husaberg FE450).

Just one point separates these three riders at the top, with Tokoroa’s Sean Clarke (Yamaha WRF450), Auckland’s Karl Power (Honda CRF250) and Mount Maunganui’s Joel Byrne (Kawasaki KX250F) also pushing for a podium finish.

May finished second and third at the two earlier rounds, while O’Dea did the opposite, finishing third and second, but Burgess tops the standings by one point with his slightly superior 4-1 results.

Power won round one but was unable to attend round two, leaving him with a bit of catching-up to do, but, as he has already proven, he is more than capable of scoring maximum points again on Saturday.

The Kiwi Rider magazine-sponsored series has been a real hit with the country’s off-road bike riders, with competitor numbers growing with each outing and this weekend’s finale is no exception.

In addition to attracting full fields, the talent runs deep with many current or former national champions among those entered.

In the Intermediate class, Tokoroa’s Mark Newton (Husaberg) and Putaruru’s Phil Skinner (KTM) are separated by just a handful of points and a fierce battle is likely on Saturday between the tenacious twosome.

In the junior grade, Huntly’s Ryan Hoskins (Husqvarna) has dominated both events so far and is firm favourite to celebrate another win this weekend.

Fast-improving Taupo rider Greg De Lautour (Yamaha) and Tokoroa’s Jesse Clarke (Yamaha) won’t be far behind.

Younger riders such as Putaruru’s Liam Anderson (Kawasaki KX85) and Te Awamutu’s James Scott (Kawasaki KX65) will also be worth watching.

The cross-country series is run parallel with but separate to the Dirt Guide Trail Ride Series, with that phase of the weekend’s action set for the same venue following day.

The 90-minute junior race kicks off at 9.30am and the senior race begins at 12.30pm. Sunday’s trail ride starts at 9.30am.

CALENDAR (trail ride on day two in each case):

Round one, Tar Hill, Tokoroa, April 30, May 1.
Round two, The Pylons, Atiamuri, May 28-29.
Round three, Whakamaru, June 25-26.

For any other information, call Sean Clarke on 0275 996 045