It is one down and one to go for Taranaki's Adrian Smith.
The Yamaha ace cruised to victory at the fourth and final round of the New Zealand Cross-country Championships at Cheviot, north of Christchurch, on Saturday, easily wrapping up the outright win for 2012 and claiming the under-300cc four-stroke class title as well.
Smith was national cross-country champion back in 2006 and admitted it had "been a long time between drinks", although he did have plenty of class titles to show for his efforts over the intervening years.
"It was a huge feeling of elation when I crossed the finish line (at Cheviot). I'm pretty stoked with the win," he said.
"Now I'm after title No2 this season, the New Zealand Enduro Championships' outright win. I've won a few bike class titles in the enduro scene too over the years but never the outright. It would be a fantastic season to collect two New Zealand titles outright wouldn't it?"
Smith leads the enduro nationals with just the fifth and final round to come, set for Taupo on July 21.
As for the cross-country nationals finale on Saturday, Smith headed into the weekend as the runaway favourite.
With only three of the four rounds to be counted – riders are able to discard their one worst result – and he had already notched up outright wins in two of the three the previous rounds, a sixth placing at round one his likely discard result.
But the 26-year-old Mokau farmer was taking nothing for granted in the three-hour off-road motorcycle marathon on Saturday, with Whakatane's Lance O'Dea (Husqvarna TE310) mathematically within strike range should Smith encounter problems on the challenging farmland course.
In the end it was a comfortable win for Smith. He worked his way through traffic at the congested start to take his Yamaha YZ250F to the front and he never looked back from there.
However, as he crossed the line at the end of lap five, he passed the timing zone with time still left on the clock and was sent out for an additional lap. Smith backed it off to cruise mode and eventually took the chequered flag after three hours and 39 minutes.
Runner-up was Hamilton's Sam Brown (KTM 350SX), who finished his afternoon at the three-hour two-minute mark, but a lap down on Smith.
O'Dea finished fifth on Saturday, just enough to edge out his elder brother, John O'Dea, for the runner-up spot in the championship. "The laps were quite long but enjoyable," said Smith afterwards. "There had been quite a bit of rain."
Fellow Taranaki man Renny Johnston (Yamaha YZ125) finished only 27th overall on Saturday and that became his discard result, his points scored at the earlier rounds enough to see him win the under-200cc two-stroke class and finish the series seventh overall.
The racing was much tighter at the top of the junior ranks with three riders arriving at Cheviot level on points.
Maruia's Ethan Bruce, Raglan's Mathew Quirke and Pahiatua's Scott Sowry had each scored a first and a second placing at the earlier events and it came down to the wire for them in Saturday's final 90-minute junior race.
In the end it was a fresh winner, Richmond's Dylan Waghorn, who won the junior race on Saturday but Bruce finished runner-up, easily enough to give him the title.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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