By Andy McGechan
It was probably just a matter of time before Kiwi dirt bike ace Rachael Archer topped the podium in the United States.
The 18-year-old from Ngaroma, near Te Awamutu, has long been a front-runner, even against the men, on the cross-country scene in New Zealand and now she’s turning heads in the United States as well, consistently finishing among the frontrunners in the elite WXC (women’s cross-country) section of the massive Grand National Cross-country Championships (GNCC).
And at the weekend she finally achieved her dream, recording her first class win and topping the podium for the day.
Based in South Carolina, Archer made her debut in the GNCC series last year, riding for the AmPro Yamaha Team, a factory team run by American cross-country legend Randy Hawkins.
The GNCC competition is an internationally-renowned series, with races scheduled all along the east coast of the US, from New York to Florida, and Archer celebrated winning her two-hour WXC class race at the weekend’s eighth round of 13 in the series at Maidsville, West Virginia, further cementing her spot at third overall in her class.
“The track was 9.5 miles (15 kilometres) long, very dusty and really rooty, so I knew I had to get out the front quickly to stay out of the dust, which I did,” she said.
“I was in the lead on lap one and pulled 20 seconds on second place. (American rider and series leader) Becca Sheets caught me on lap three and I looked over my shoulder to see how far away she was and she was right beside me!
“I rode as fast as I could and made a lot of sketchy passes around lapped riders to try to dust her out and get some lapped riders between us. It worked and, sure enough, I managed to pull away from her and put 59 seconds on her at the finish.”
Archer has been on the podium on five separate occasions in eight rounds of the series this year, with her worst result a fifth at round six in Pennsylvania last month.
She is now 56 points behind US rider Tayla Jones, with Becca Sheets on top and a long way in front.
Fellow Kiwi Liam Draper is also contesting the GNCC series, racing his 250cc KTM bike in the men’s Pro XC2 class.
The rider from Howick finished seventh in the three-hour race for his class at Maidsville and he is currently fifth overall in his class standings for the championship.
With temperatures rising in the US at this time of year, the sport now takes a summer break, the GNCC competition set to resume with round nine at Beckley, West Virginia, on September 14.