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PICTURED: Ngatea's Ben Broad (Kawasaki), a former national motocross champion, likely to be among the leading riders this weekend. 

MAY 1, 2018: If you can picture superbike racing on a grass track, then you’ll have no trouble at all imagining what it may look like at the annual New Zealand Miniature TT Championships near Huntly this weekend.

Riders from all the various dirt bike codes – and possibly a few road-racers too – will flock to the previously-untried course at Taupiri, just north of Hamilton, this Saturday and Sunday for the TT nationals.

TT racing is like superbike racing on soil instead of tarmac – the racing is off-road and the competitors use dirt bikes or quad bikes, but, unlike motocross, there are no steep hills or skyward launch ramps to slow things down.

The entry list for the Kawasaki-sponsored two-day event includes the stars of motocross, cross-country, enduro and even road-racing, all terrain vehicle (ATV) and super motard and they will all hit eye-watering speeds as they chase national glory this weekend.

The event skipped a beat last year when no suitable venue could be found, but it now makes a welcome return to the calendar, with the farm property at 456 Rutherfurd Road, Taupiri, made available by land owner Mark Fuller, who is a former national enduro and cross-country frontrunner and the father of rising star on the road-race scene, 16-year-old Zak Fuller.

There is little doubt that this father and son duo will also be racing this weekend.

One rider who will certainly be worth watching is Bay of Plenty's Brad Groombridge.

The Taupo locksmith won two of the three bike classes he entered at the TT nationals when they were last staged – near Kuratau in 2016 – and that was a virtual repeat of the amazing success he enjoyed at the same event the previous season. In fact, his double title success in 2016 was the third consecutive season that he had won both the premier categories at the TT nationals.

Others to look for this weekend include Bay of Plenty's former motocross world champion Ben Townley and Cambridge's multi-time former national motocross champion Mike Cotter. 

Expect fireworks too from Kiwi international Rachael Archer, the Te Awamutu girl who regularly beats up the boys on the enduro, motocross and cross-country scenes, and superbike and 600cc road-race hero Toby Summers, the multi-talented man from Manukau who has raced with success over the years on both tar seal and dirt, as well as proving himself a force to be reckoned with on the hybrid super moto bikes.

Riders such as Ngatea's former national champion Ben Broad, Pokeno's Luke Temple, Taupo brothers Wyatt and Cohen Chase, Hamilton's Reef Wheki, Stratford's Scott Keegan and Cambridge's Jared Hannon, to name a few, will also perhaps fancy their chances of winning.

With racing for 10 separate championship classes over the two days, as well as support classes being run, the term "flat track" may be a little misleading, with the track expected to be rough and rutted by late Sunday afternoon, when rider fitness will play as much a part in the outcomes as any riders' bravery, skill or horsepower advantage. 

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan,


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