Race Not for the Timid

4-Hour cross Country

maddix park mx

Suzuki continues to put its money where its wheels go as the company again jumps in to support the popular Acerbis Four-Hour cross-country race near Taupo, now in its sixth year.

And it’s not hard to see why – run by Epic Events, the event has been growing in popularity each year and an estimated 400 riders have signed up this time around to tackle the gruelling dirt bike marathon in the Tahorakuri Forest, on the road between Taupo and Rotorua, next Saturday, November 1.

A wide cross-section of riders from various motorcycling codes will come together to race through the trees and over the pumice and sand of the Central Plateau, forming up as two-rider teams or simply choosing to go it alone as an ironman contestant, making this one of New Zealand’s premier off-road bike events.

The trick for a rider is determining whether he or she should share riding duties with a similarly-skilled exponent, and therefore make it a series of short sprints, with a recovery rest in between each lap, or deciding whether he or she has the strength and stamina to ride solo and charge across increasingly rough terrain for four hours without a break.

The bikes are built to last and the only real reason to stop is to refuel every 30-kilometre lap, or maybe every two or three, but there’s also a lot to be said for a rider who perhaps uses an after-market, jumbo-size fuel tank to bypass the pits and stretch out an advantage.

Two-rider teams are permitted to use two separate bikes, a wrist-band change-over in the pits a way of “passing the baton”, which means riders won’t have to race on unfamiliar bikes or have to compromise with suspension or comfort settings. This also means some very high speeds can be achieved.

If an outright win is out of reach, there are still plenty of separate class wins for the riders to chase – solo class, father/son team class, women’s class or mixed (male and female) teams’ class and there is also a new veteran teams’ class where the two riders must have a combined age of over 80 years.

Taupo’s Brad Groombridge was a revelation at the event last year, powering his Suzuki RM-Z450 through the field after a poor start to eventually win the race outright and what was even more remarkable was that he did that as an ironman, the first time that had been done.

Runners-up last season were Yamaha co-riders Callan May, of Titirangi, and Mokau’s Adrian Smith, with Atiamuri’s Hadleigh Knight joining forces on a KTM with Tauranga’s Aaron Wiltshire to finish third overall.

These riders are again expected to take up the challenge.

Suzuki riders were a feature at this event the previous year too, with Mount Maunganui’s Rhys Carter and Paraparaumu’s Jesse Donnelly winning the 2012 edition of the great race, while fellow Suzuki stars Mark Penny, of Te Awamutu, and Kaukapakapa’s Josh Jack teamed up to finish runners-up that year.

The 90-minute Motomuck Junior 90 race acts as a “curtain-raiser” to the main race and that starts at 8.30am, attracting a who’s who of New Zealand’s rising young dirt bike stars

The four-hour senior race kicks off at 11am.

The Tahorakuri Forest venue is on State Highway 5, Taupo, which is about 15 minutes’ drive from Taupo or 30 minutes’ drive from Rotorua.

For further information contact Simon Meade, General Manager of Motorcycle / ATV Marketing, [email protected].

Words and photo courtesy of Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

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