Suzuki @ Oparau:

Posted: Thu 26 Feb 2004



TOKOROA forestry contractor Sean Clarke has proved just how good the new Suzuki RM-Z250 is by riding it to outright victory in the opening round of the Suzuki-backed New Zealand Enduro Championships.

\"The light weight helped heaps,\" enthused Clarke after scoring the overall win - giving the RM-Z250 its first outright victory in New Zealand enduro competition.
\"The power is great. In fact, for a 250cc four-stroke single, it\'s awesome. But because it is so light, it is really easy to ride. You\'re never caught out with braking - it stops really well - but the best thing is the handling! Man, this thing steers unbelievably well, which makes it really good through the forestry sections.\"

Although Clarke knew the Oparau trails very well, he says this gave him no advantage as all his rivals were allowed to walk the tightly timed terrain tests the day before, and then on race day, they pre-rode them as well.\"As a result, everyone knew where they were going in the terrain tests,\" Clarke added.

The multi-New Zealand Enduro Champ revelled in the conditions on the new Suzuki, despite the fact he was first out on the course, and had to make the trail in wet, greasy conditions in the morning.

\"And that\'s another thing about the new 250 Suzuki,\" Clarke adds. \"It doesn\'t matter how much mud gets packed on it, it is still LIGHT! Bigger bikes can pick up so much mud it turns into a wrestling contest just to get around. But not on this new 250!\"

Clarke says being able to steer around trees easily is one of the RM-Z250\'s greatest assets in enduro competition - which is about as far removed from the Suzuki\'s purpose in life as you can get. It was designed as a motocross bike for closed course competition, which is reflected in the close ratio six-speed gearbox.

Clarke agrees that for enduro use, a wider spaced set of ratios would make it perfect. To help in this regard, he went up one tooth on the gearbox sprocket, which lowered the overall gearing and meant he was using first gear in sections where previously he would have been in second gear.
\"The good part about that is the engine is really flexible. It pulls well at lower revs and just keeps on pulling. In the tight stuff, it\'s easy to ride because it steers so well, and the power is so useable,\" Clarke concludes.

Prior to the outright win at Oparau, the RM-Z250\'s best result in cross-country and enduro competition was scoring the 0-250 four-stroke class win at last year\'s Hawkes Bay Six-Hour, and finishing third outright.

Clarke\'s Oparau result is even more impressive as he was up against purpose-built enduro machines on the Suzuki motocrosser, and still came out on top.
\"If Suzuki build a proper enduro version of this bike, it will be just about unbeatable in New Zealand conditions,\" Clarke reckons.


Overall Position:
1 Sean Clarke Suzuki RM-Z250 916
2 Steven Bird Yamaha WR250F 937
3 Mark Pollard Yamaha WR250F 940
4 Dene Humphrey Gas Gas EC250 943
5 Roger Boyles Suzuki RM-Z250 945
6 Terry Cameron Gas Gas 200 947
7 Mark Whyte Suzuki DR-Z400 957
8 Johnathan Taaffe KTM450 EXC 962
9= Simon Hull KTM 450 EXC 969
9= Stephen Gray KTM 400 EXC 969