Text by Gary Sullivan, photos by Jason Beacham

The second round of this season’s Giant 2W Gravity Enduro is looming, and riders from all over the country will be watching the weatherman intently for any clues that will allow them to capitalise on conditions come Saturday December 12. The legendary trail network in Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest is currently running to perfection, but frontal systems happening along every week or so can turn the hero dirt into a slippery challenge.

The upcoming round is based at the Waipa trailhead, and riders will face either four or six stages, depending on their preference. Rumour has it there will actually be seven stages created for the event, with the six-stage entrants only sharing three with the four-stage riders.

The inaugural Ray White Ten Grand Slam gave riders an opportunity to claim $10,000 – but only if they could win all three rounds of the 2W series. Local pinner Keegan Wright and international star Raewyn Morrison took out their respective first rounds, so they are the competitors with everything to lose. Plenty of people in both the men’s and women’s fields have their range finders zeroed in on those two leaders, so the pressure will be intense!

The men’s field in the upcoming round features a return match between Wright and Sam Shaw, who came close with a third place overall in the early round. Shaw knows how to win these things, he has done that before on several occasions, and his xc background may come in handy during the six stages of racing that riders tackle on the day. The dark horse is Carl Jones, a former national xc champion and a very fast enduro rider when the going gets tough. He had a disappointing showing last month and will be looking for some payback.

In the female field the competition is bolstered by the entry of Sasha Smith. She will be alongside Annika Smail and Vanessa Quin in trying to unseat Morrison, but Rae’s form in the first round will make that a tough objective. Smail has the speed and endurance to do it though, she took a stage win last time out and the longer and tougher the day, the better this xc and marathon champion will like it. Quin is no stranger to speed – she was World Downhill Champion in 2004 – on her day she is still a force to be reckoned with and will keep all her competition honest.

Only 40 entries remain before the event Sold Out stamp comes out, so if you are keen to get amongst it, you had best not wait for the short term weather forecast!

Visit www.2w.co.nz for all event details and to enter.

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