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Brad Groombridge: A dirt-biking workaholic

A motorcycle rider as enormously skilled as Brad Groombridge can be a hard man to slow down, pin down and categorise.

Not unless the category is "multi-talented motorcycling magician".

The 29-year-old Taupo locksmith has done it all over the past few seasons, winning races and national titles in a variety of different bike codes and in varied circumstances too, mostly campaigning his favoured Kea Trailers-sponsored Suzuki RM-Z450 dirt bike.

He even dabbled with superbike road-racing during the 2018-19 season, taking a Suzuki GSX-R1000 to score impressive results there too, although he has since re-focused to concentrate solely on the dirt bike scene.

Groombridge was one of just two individuals to tackle more than one class at the 2020 New Zealand Motocross Championships that wrapped up in March and it didn't seem to fatigue him at all.

In fact, despite being entered in twice as many races as any other rider in the premier MX1 class, Groombridge still managed a magnificent top-six result at the end of the four-round series.

Perhaps a glutton for punishment or simply a dirt-biking workaholic, Groombridge also raced his Suzuki RM-Z250 model bike in the MX2 (250cc) class this year, settling this time for 10th overall in what would arguably have been the toughest MX2 championship class in many years.

Groombridge was also twice the New Zealand enduro champion, in 2016 and again in 2018, and he also won the New Zealand Cross-country Championships three-times consecutively (in 2016, 2017 and 2018), so he is obviously a versatile and multi-talented rider with remarkable credentials.

But this says a great deal about his bikes too.

Groombridge has raced exactly the same RM-Z450 bike in the enduro and cross-country events that he raced at the motocross nationals, the only alteration being to fit a larger fuel tank or change the tyres.

With such a vast skill-set and tons of national glory to go with that, Groombridge has plenty of reason to feel proud and satisfied.

So you can imagine how hard it must have been for him to answer the question: "What one race was your best ever?"

"I guess my most notable achievements would have to be my cross-country and enduro championship title wins, along with my Acerbis Four-Hour (endurance dirt bike race) wins as a solo rider.

Groombridge won this race outright a record five times, four of those victories coming as a solo (ironman) rider.

He first won the Acerbis race outright in 2010, on that occasion riding as part of a two-man team, sharing the riding duties that day with Hawera's former national motocross champion Daryl Hurley.

But then Groombridge created history when he won the Acerbis marathon in 2013, becoming the first man to win it as an ironman.

Groombridge won it again as a solo rider a year later, in 2014. He finished fifth overall in 2015, although that was still good enough for him to again take the ironman (solo rider) class trophy.

He was back on top in 2016, winning the Acerbis outright and again as a solo rider.

"But in terms of my Acerbis race win that stands out the most, it would probably be the most gruelling one, in 2017.

"Me and (Manawatu's) Paul Whibley went back and forth in the lead the whole race. It was raining and this caused major vision issues for me.

"I ended up riding without goggles. It was tough trying to work out a spot where I could pass Paul without getting filled in by the dirt roost from his rear tyre, but I managed to make that happen. I was eventually able to make the pass for the lead with just over a lap to go. That was definitely a stand-out race for me.

"I also believe that the 2010 Motocross of Nations event in Denver, Colorado, would have to be another memorable one for me, not because I got any great results, but just to be there and experience the atmosphere that comes with this annual international event (widely regarded as the "Olympic Games of motocross").

"The qualifying race on the Saturday, when I holeshot it and led, was remarkable for me. To holeshot and lead, even if only for a short time ... to achieve that in that kind of atmosphere was something special.

"There are probably many races I could have chosen to answer this question, but this race was definitely a standout worth mentioning.

"I'm not exactly sure where I finished in that qualifying race ... 13th place rings a bell, but I’m not too sure."

When the current Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic lock-down is lifted, it’s a certain bet that we’ll see Groombridge out and about on his 450cc four-stroke Suzuki dirt bike, hunting down more glory at national championship level.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan,

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