The excited jabber of the Finland team riders and their supporters punctuated the air as the 81st International Six Days Enduro wrapped up near Taupo today.
As expected, there was little any of the 31 nations competing could do to peg back the flying Finns as the theme of the event transformed on the sixth and final day from a battle of endurance in the mud and slush to a test of high speed riding on the volcanic sand and ash of the local motocross track.
Finland won the event from France and Spain, with
New Zealand holding on to seventh spot in the overall Trophy Team standings.
The Kiwis fancied themselves on the volcanic ash surface of the popular digger McEwen Motorcycle Park circuit on the outskirts of Taupo, the venue for many of their domestic motocross battles.
With senior Trophy Team riders Shayne King, Cam Negus, Paul Whibley , Chris Birch and Lachie Columb each showing top motocross form today, it was never in doubt they’d retain their hold on the No.7 spot in the battle of the nations between the Trophy Teams.
Likewise with the junior squad of Michael Phillips, Adrian Smith and Karl Power – they also shone in the motocross action.
New Zealand team manager Shaun Stanbridge said he was very happy with the result.
“Sweden was 15 minutes behind the New Zealand junior team but, when the FIM (sport’s governing body) jury decided to cancel one of the stages yesterday (because of timing problems in the torrential rain), this allowed them to close right up and they were only six seconds behind us at the start of today’s motocross,” Stanbridge explained.
“I was sweating bricks all day,” he said.
The five remaining Senior Trophy Team riders and three surviving Junior Trophy Team riders ran hot in the motocross today, perhaps none more so that Rotorua’s Phillips, who simply ran away with his E2 race.
“Phillips was the third fastest of any individual at the event today,” said Stanbridge .
“Him winning his race gave the junior team a huge boost in the standings. The New Zealand Junior Trophy Team’s combined times today were 46 minutes 11 seconds. Sweden ’s team tally today was 47 minutes plus.
“It’s a fantastic result for us considering we don’t field a team every year. Fifth or higher would have been great but the pedigree of the Europeans is akin to our pedigree for rugby. We were racing against the All Blacks of the enduro world this week.”
Next year’s ISDE will be held in Chile .
Trophy Team standings after Day Five of the ISDE:
1. Finland ; 2. France , 15m09s behind the leaders; 3. Spain , 20m06s; 4. Italy , 23m25s; 5. Sweden , 24m10s; 6. Australia , 24m51s; 7. New Zealand , 42m39s; 8. Slovakia , 58m33s; 9. Great Britain , no time given at time of release; 10. USA , no time given.
Junior Trophy Team Positions (under 23 years)
1. USA ; 2. France , 8m20s
behind the leaders; 3. Australia , 11m54s; 4.Germany, 14m06s; 5. Italy , 15m20s; 6. Great Britain , 17m52s; 7. Finland , 19m21s; 8. Netherlands , 20m01s; 9. Spain , 26m27s; 10. New Zealand , 35m16s.