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PICTURED: Taupo's Brad Groombridge (Suzuki), leading the way in the enduro nationals after three of five rounds. 

MAY 29, 2018: The 2018 New Zealand Enduro Championships roared past the halfway stage near Nelson at the weekend with a set of results that make interesting reading indeed.

The third round of five was held at Maruia, near Nelson, on Saturday, with difficult conditions testing even the hardiest and most experienced of racers.

It was 2016 national enduro champion Brad Groombridge who emerged cleanest from the mire, the Taupo man looking likely to turn his runner-up finish from last season into a win this year as Saturday's result also gave him the lead in the 2018 championship.

"There was a lot of standing water on the course on Saturday and I nearly got stuck a couple of times," said Groombridge.

"I just couldn't tell how deep the water was.

"At one stage I had water up to the seat on the bike, but managed to pull the bike out and kept the engine running. Quite a few other riders had issues and I think I had a bit of luck go my way."

The rider who led the series after the opening two rounds, Helensville's Tom Buxton, was a notable no-show on Saturday – he's now currently racing overseas – and this would have eased the pressure on Groombridge.

Also away on overseas assignments were leading riders Dylan Yearbury, from Cambridge, and Napier's Mackenzie Wiig, while Coatesville's Sam Greenslade, who had been third overall in the enduro series after the first two rounds, lasted just 10 minutes on Saturday.

"I had injured my knee a couple of weeks back, but still thought I'd be good to race on Saturday," said Greenslade.

"But the pain was too much and I didn't last long at all. I'll be out for six weeks now."

In the end, it was Wainuiomata's Jake Whitaker who finished runner-up on Saturday, followed by Tokoroa's Jake Wightman.

Paeroa's Chris Power, Taumarunui's Cody Davey, Cambridge's Beau Taylor, Nelson's Shane McGowan, Oamaru's Bradley Simpson, Stratford's Josh Hunger and Paekakariki's Tyler Mills rounded out the top 10.

The final two rounds of this year's enduro nationals will be a double-header weekend, day one set for the Santoft Forest, near Bulls, on June 9, and the fifth and final round of the competition set for Martinborough the following day.

2018 NZ Enduro Championships calendar:

Round 1 – April 21, Whangamata
Round 2 – April 22, Tokoroa
Round 3 – May 26, Maruia, Nelson
Round 4 – June 9, Santoft (Bulls)
Round 5 – June 10, Martinborough


Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan,

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