Mokau's Adrian Smith (Yamaha), now favoured to take the national crown. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
There have now been four different winners in as many rounds of the New Zealand Enduro Championships as the series wrapped up the penultimate round in the King Country on Saturday.
Wellington's Rory Mead won the day at Round 1 near Kawhia in February, while Whangamata's Jason Davis won Round 2 in Northland in March and Auckland's Karl Power returned from injury to win Round 3 near Whangamata three weeks ago.
But it was Mokau's Adrian Smith who stepped up to take the win at the fourth round of five at Waimiha, near Bennydale, on Saturday, thrusting himself into prime position to continue on and seal the outright win when the championship eventually wraps up near Taupo on July 21.
Runner-up on Saturday was Davis, with Auckland's Mike Skinner, Palmerston North's Adam Reeves and Auckland's Callan May rounding out the top five.
Smith missed Round 1 because of injury but has steadily piled on the points since then, finishing fourth overall at Round 2, before coming home in third position at Round 3 and then winning on Saturday.
His consistently high finishes have given him a comfortable points buffer over his main title rivals - Reeves, Power, Hokianga brothers Mitchell and Damon Nield and Opotiki's John O'Dea - as the riders head to Taupo for the finale in a couple of months.
"The course was awesome," said the 26-year-old Smith afterwards. "I usually go well there and it had a nice flow to it, weaving through the trees."
Saturday's event organiser, Waimiha farmer Gary Powell, said the riding conditions could not have been more perfect.
"The course was not especially difficult but the riders certainly didn't get much time to rest. It was a good test of man and machine," said Powell.