Consistency, versatility and reliability – not to mention a huge helping of rider talent – could see Yamaha make it back-to-back national enduro titles this season.
Wellington’s Rory Mead (Yamaha YZ450F) won the New Zealand Enduro Championships outright last season and looked set for a successful title defence when he won the day at the 2012 series opener near Kawhia in February.
But Mead had bigger fish to fry this season and soon afterwards he headed overseas to join fellow Kiwi Yamaha ace Paul Whibley in tackling the Grand National Cross-country Championships in the United States.
That left the way clear for another rider to step up and claim the domestic enduro racing honours and now it seems another Yamaha rider, Mokau’s Adrian Smith, could be the new national champion.
The 26-year-old Smith (Yamaha YZ250F) won the fourth round of five at Waimiha, near Bennydale, on Saturday, thrusting himself into prime position to continue on and seal the outright win when the championship eventually wraps up near Taupo on July 21.
Runner-up on Saturday was Whangamata’s Jason Davis, with Auckland’s Mike Skinner, Yamaha’s national cross-country champion Adam Reeves, of Palmerston North, and Auckland’s Callan May rounding out the top five.
Smith missed round one because of injury but has steadily piled on the points since then, finishing fourth overall at round two, before coming home in third position at round three and then winning on Saturday.
His consistently high finishes have given him a comfortable points buffer over his main title rivals as the riders head to Taupo for the finale in a couple of months.
“The course was awesome,” said the 26-year-old Smith afterwards. “I have been playing catch-up all season because I missed round one but now I’ve caught right up and I’m actually in front.”
Saturday’s event organiser, Waimiha farmer Gary Powell, said the championship will go down to the wire with the winner revealed at Taupo, although he agreed Smith was now the most likely candidate.
“His riding was impressive at the weekend and it also just goes to show how good the YZ250F is. This is not really an enduro bike but a motocross bike. It certainly lived up to its reputation for being a great bike.”
Smith is proudly supported by Blackwood Yamaha, Yamalube, GYTR, Michelin, Axo, Renthal, Ariete, Suomy, TCX boots, Zeta, Sixsixone, BikesportNZ.com and Yoshimura.
Smith is also a prime candidate to win the national cross-country championships this season. The fourth and final round of that series is set for Cheviot, north of Christchurch, this coming weekend.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com