Cross-country champs war set to resume

By Andy McGechan on Tue, 14 Feb 2012 | Motorsport | Motorbikes | New Zealand Cross-country Championships
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Manawatu's Adam Reeves, ready to begin his title defence this weekend. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

Eliminating mistakes could be the key factor for title hopefuls in this year's New Zealand Cross-country Championships.

With the Suzuki-sponsored national cross-country motorcycle series comprising just four rounds, there is little margin for error, something that defending champion Adam Reeves, of Palmerston North, is only too aware of.

There was an element of luck in Reeves' successful title defence last season, as a mistake by him at the final round nearly led to rival Adrian Smith, of Mokau, snatching away the title instead.

At the rain-drenched final round last season, Reeves drowned his bike about two thirds of the way into the three-hour race.

But, as more and more riders struck problems on the steep and slippery course over the final hour, Reeves' disaster became null and void when organisers decided to roll results back to the two-hour mark as conditions had become impossible.

That was enough to deny Smith, who, despite leading the race at that stage, had been down in 18th spot at the two-hour point.

Reeves is now chasing his fourth consecutive national cross-country crown this season and, looking at his sublime form in the early part of the season, it's going to take a superhuman effort to topple him this year too.

He finished among the top three at the opening round of the parallel New Zealand Enduro Championships a fortnight ago and is obviously hitting top form.

In addition to Reeves and Smith, other riders to look out for this weekend include perennial frontrunners Mark Penny, of Te Awamutu, Huntly's Michael Vining, Napier's John O'Dea, Ohope's Brandon Given, Toko's Karl Roberts, Wellington's Hugh Lintott and New Plymouth's Renny Johnston.

After this weekend's opening round, the series heads to Huntly for round two on March 25, followed by two rounds in the South Island, in Marlborough on April 22 and Christchurch on May 12.

Sunday's venue is at Lewis' property, Parr Valley Road, and is signposted from the southern end of Pahiatua.