Taupo’s Nathan Tesselaar Leads Cross-Country Series
There was a distinctive orange tinge to racing at the third round of four in this season’s New Zealand Cross-country Championships near Taupo, with KTM bike riders hogging the podium.
In spectacular form recently, it was probably just a matter of time before Nathan Tesselaar (KTM 350 XC-F) celebrated his first national cross-country championship race win and that moment finally arrived on Sunday, the 25-year-old Taupo electrician leading fellow KTM riders Sam Greenslade and Jason Dickey to the podium.
That result was enough to boost Tesselaar to the top of the series standings, his 4-3-1 scorecard for the series thus far giving him a serious chance of winning the overall title, which will be decided at the fourth and final round near Mosgiel on May 12.
However, with only three of four rounds to be counted as riders discard their one worst result, it means defending champion Brad Groombridge (Suzuki), with his 1-1-9 scorecard, is still the favourite to take the crown.
“I was inside the top 10 or so after the start and managed to pull back a few places before we headed out of the start paddock,” Tesselaar said.
“Then I just played it safe, stayed out of trouble and managed to keep moving up. I was so nervous on that final lap, just trying to do the basics right and not make any mistakes.”
Groombridge had led the championship chase heading into the weekend, but he ran out of fuel while leading Sunday’s three-hour race, meaning the series will go down to the wire in Mosgiel with Tesselaar, Groombridge, Dickey (0-2-3) and perhaps Hamilton’s Phil Goodwright (Husqvarna, 2-5-7) all in title contention.
For Sunday’s runner-up, Coatesville man Greenslade (KTM 250 EXC-F), it was his first ride in the series, after only recently arriving back in the country after a year spent in the UK, and so he is not a realistic contender for the national title this season.
“This was my first ride in about six months,” said the 27-year-old.
“I felt like I was dying out there.”
The 22km farmland circuit, just north of Kuratau, proved a testing venue, with the track catching out even the most experienced riders.
Wairoa’s Reece Lister (KTM 250SX) held the lead as the field came back into view at the end of the opening lap on Sunday, until disaster struck just a few hundred metres from the timing zone, the young man losing control of his bike and hurtling into a farm fence.
It took him ages to extricate his bike from the fence batons and wire, and he was almost last when he eventually rejoined the race.
In an inspired ride, Lister powered through almost the entire field, claiming sixth overall at the finish and giving him the over-200cc two-stroke class win. He is now second in the series standings for this class, just three points behind Napier’s Mackenzie Wiig (KTM 300 EXC).