Fierce battle for NZ enduro honours

Bulls Run Road, near Porirua and Judgeford, just north of Wellington, is the venue this weekend for round three of the 2024 New Zealand Enduro Championships series. Photo by Andy McGechan,

This season’s five-round New Zealand Enduro Championships will nudge past the halfway stage with round three this King’s Birthday Weekend. 

The first two rounds of the Yamaha-sponsored series were held at separate venues in the South Island last month and so far the racing has been extremely tight, with former championship-winning riders Brad Groombridge and James Scott going full throttle at the front.

Taupo man Groombridge is a three-time former New Zealand cross-country champion (winning in consecutive seasons, in 2016, 2017 and 2018) and twice previously won the New Zealand enduro championships overall, in 2016 and again in 2018, while young Oparau rider Scott won the New Zealand Cross-country Championships in 2022 and he is also the current New Zealand MX2 (250cc) motocross champion.

And while both of these champion riders are equally fast, fierce and incredibly determined, there are plenty of other similarly-skilled riders close on their heels, men such as Omihi’s defending New Zealand enduro champion Ethan McBreen, Nelson’s Bailey Basalaj, Taupo’s 2023 New Zealand cross-country champion Wil Yeoman, New Plymouth’s Josh Houghton and Rangiora’s Ben Dando, to name just a few.

Two gruelling back-to-back days of racing lie ahead for the competitors at this weekend’s venue in the unforgiving Akatarawa Forest, in the Moonshine Valley, inland from Porirua, near Judgeford.

The terrain is extremely challenging and, on many occasions in the past, this venue has been a campaign graveyard, with title hopes ending up buried on one or another of the steep a treacherous forest hillsides.

The leading individuals after two rounds thus far are Groombridge, unbeaten and on the maximum 50 points, with Scott (44 points) in second and Basalaj (40 points) rounding out the podium.

The leaders in the various AA grade (expert level) bike classes after two rounds are Basalaj (E1, 0-200cc two-stroke and 0-300cc four-stroke class); Groombridge (E1, 201cc-to-open two-stroke class); Scott (E3, 301cc-to-open four-stroke class and Rangiora’s Kelly Paterson (Veterans’ over-40 years class).

The leading rider in the A grade (intermediate level) after round two is New Plymouth’s Hayden Lockhart, with Paeroa’s Mark Whyte and Christchurch’s Grant Oliver rounding out the top three. 

Round four of the domestic series is scheduled for Martinborough the following weekend, June 8-9, with the fifth and final round a one-day competition, set for Bideford, near Masterton on November 2.

In addition to Yamaha-Motor New Zealand, the 2024 NZ Enduro Championships are supported by Macaulay Metals, Best Build Construction, Silver-bullet and Kiwi Rider magazine.

It’s interesting to note that this year’s International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) is set for Spain in October and the racing in New Zealand throughout this domestic series will help Motorcycling New Zealand enduro commissioner Justin Stevenson make his selections for the New Zealand team to travel away for that.

2024 NZ Enduro Champs calendar:

Round 1: April 20-21, 1045 Reece’s Road, Omihi, near Christchurch.

Round 2: April 27-28, 981 Whitecliffs Road, Coalgate, Canterbury.

Round 3: June 1-2, Porirua (signposted from SH 58, Haywards Hill Road) Moonshine Valley Road, Wellington.

Round 4: June 8-9, Ruakokoputuna Hall, near Martinborough.

Round 5: November 2, Bideford, near Masterton.

-By Andy McGechan,



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