Submitted by Andy McGechan
Thursday, 7th July 2016
Viewed 748 times

CAPTION: Thames rider Natasha Cairns (KTM 200 XCW), on her way to winning the women's class and finishing runner-up in the intermediate grade at the 2016 national enduro championships final round at the weekend. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

JUNE 6, 2016: Thames dirt bike rider Natasha Cairns has been winning national titles in the women's ranks for quite a few years and now she's closing in on the men too.

The 31-year-old building company salesperson took her KTM 200 XCW bike to again dominate the women's class when the five-round New Zealand Enduro Championships wrapped up near Tokoroa on Sunday and, remarkably, she also scored highly against the men when she finished overall runner-up in the intermediate grade.

Cairns came very close to stealing away with overall honours too after she won the intermediate class at the fourth round of five at Waimiha the day before.

However, early series leader Josh Dando, from Loburn, bounced back after finishing third outright in the grade at Waimiha to win the day at Tokoroa and eventually clinch the trophy by six points from Cairns.

"I was pretty stoked to do so well against the men, but I'd rather have won it overall," she said.

"When I won the day at Waimiha it was the best result I've ever achieved at the nationals. Traditionally, Waimiha has not been a good place for me, but it all fell into place.

"Actually, the day was nearly all over for me at the first section when I got stuck in a bog. It was just poor line selection on my part and I was just grateful that another rider actually intermediate grade rival John Buxton (from Helensville) was kind enough to stop and help me out.

"But I was riding more conservatively at Tokoroa and Josh (Dando) was certainly on the case ... he smoked me and I congratulate him."

Meanwhile, in the expert grade, the Tokoroa event signalled a return to New Zealand Enduro Championship action by multi-time champion Chris Birch.

The Glen Eden rider had not defended his 2015 title this season as his commitment to rider coaching kept him otherwise occupied, but he showed up at the final round on Sunday and took his KTM 250 XC-F to finish the day second overall in the expert grade.

Even though he scored points in only one of the five rounds, Birch had still done enough to finish the series 16th overall out of the 56 who had entered this season.

Helensville's Tom Buxton (KTM 200 XC) did enough in placing seventh overall on Saturday and ninth overall on Sunday to finish the series eighth overall against the bigger bikes and he easily won the expert under-200cc two-stroke crown.

Thames rider Rob Howe (KTM 250 EXC) finished 14th overall to win the expert veterans' (over-40 years) class.

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com

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