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Round 3  -  6 Mile Junction, 3789 SH4 Ongarue, 18 April 2021
(Opposite Tapuiwahine Road)

Round 4 - Tar Hill, Tokoroa, 9 May 2021

Moonshine 12 September 2020

Round 5 of the NZ Vinduro series at Moonshine went ahead as planned in 12 September albeit under L2 COVID conditions. The event was run in conjunction with the North Island and Central Enduro series. The L2 COVID constraints meant that the entries were limited and that riders were required to wear facemasks upon sign on and when in close proximity with other bubbles in the pits. 

Moonshine is one of the few enduros that seems to have an interesting name for nearly every part of the track - Native Loop, Dicks Yard, Sticky, Blowfly, Zig Zag, the Pylon Track, Top Bogs, Toi Toi, Teddy Bear Corner, the Tank Trap and Dudes Ranch to name a few. A new one to be added this year will be Slush Gully! The terrain is incredibly variable and can be tricky and demanding in places.

Moonshine also creates a dilemma in selecting the right tyre. A combination of rocks and slick clay really leave you no choice but to go into the event with at least a good if not new tyre – but you do so also in the knowledge that all that will be left at the end of the day will be the remnants of a shredded rubber hoop left on the rim. 

The event this year had been dogged by heavy rain the two weeks preceding; this left the ground pretty sodden in places but having said that the day of the event dawned fine and clear as it always does. This at least left riders with a reasonable prospect of staying dry most of the day! 

The course this year was quite a bit longer and a bit more open than in previous years with a single loop being 39kms long. This was to be completed twice for Silver riders with an extra 6km terrain thrown in for the Gold riders at the end of the day making a total of 84kms to be covered.

The event commenced this year at the MX track with a quick ride up the hill to Cooks Ridge and then onto to hard packed forestry roads. This gave riders a bit of time to settle in  before dropping into what is known as the Native Loop. This involves a decent down a reasonably steep rocky track before entering into a single lane trail through native bush. This piece is pretty straightforward only made tricky that the ground is rocky underneath and it was easy in the wet conditions to become deflected and thrown off course if you didn’t stay on your game. After this section it was onto more forestry road weaving in out of forestry block single tracks as you went.

The start of the first TT signalled moving off the main forestry road and dropping down on clay 4WD tracks heading towards Dick’s Yard. Given the wet conditions earlier in the week, the clay tracks were greasy and required careful negotiation to stay out of the man eating ruts that exist in this area. Having said that its generally not a problem to ride the ruts – they are very wide and have a hard bottom but in places as deep as your wheels and therefore seem a bit daunting.

Reaching Dicks Yard and crossing the sloppy stream signals that only 1 km away is Sticky. This is a long 500m uphill track which is pure clay, rutted and well just – sticky. It doesn’t matter what time of the year or how much rain or sun it is always the same – sticky. Which also means if you keep your momentum up and have a reasonable tyre on - you will climb this hill albeit your legs will most probably be flaying as you bounce from side to side of the track selecting lines and avoiding the deep ruts.

Arrival at the top of Sticky puts you onto Blow Fly Road – a bit of chance to grab your breath before dropping in and out of forestry blocks.  New for this year was a steep drop down a new track through the pines made very tricky by shiny wet roots. If you went too fast - it was easy to be thrown off your bike and on to your arse or to pile drive a tree. Moving back out of Blow Fly into Curtis Flat put riders onto more open terrain on forestry roads and dropping in out of single trails in the surrounding forestry blocks as you went. A few step climbs in this section were quite demanding but still offered good traction despite the wet conditions as long as you kept the speed up.

The first TT finished at the start Pylon Access Track. In this area riders rode down a rocky 4WD road before entering the Wainui river track.  One would of expected that with two weeks rain preceding the event that the river would have been deep and fast flowing but it wasn’t – which defies science and logic but there you go. An easy navigation through the river allowed for a good entry onto the Zig Zag Track. This is another rock tyre shredding 4WD track that just keeps on going and going. Its second and third gear taxing tyres, suspension and riders energy all the way. Reaching the top of the Zig Zag means that your heading east passing Top Bogs and making your way back along Toi Toi Road which had recently been graded smooth making for easy going.

Upon reaching Teddy Bear corner the trails begin to close in again and turn back to slippery clay. This signalled the start of Junction Hill and some slippery downhill trails which include very deep ruts and the infamous Tank Trap. Taking your time through here carefully selecting lines pays dividends here – as overshooting a trail will find you in some very ugly conditions.  Breaking out of Cleary’s Road and the Tank Trap, riders headed east on forestry tracks over to the recently clear felled forestry area known as Dudes Ranch. The downhill tracks here were comprised very loose rock and were steep in places with quite a few deep drain ruts cut across the tracks. Riders had to be pretty careful here to not overcook the speed as it was easy to lose control. 

The next significant challenge came at the end of Dudes Ranch was a new feature named by riders as Slush Gully – this was a minor hill of about 100m long but the rain had turned the surface to deep slush ......and beneath that slush were all sorts of slippery sticks and roots. Unless you got lucky, it invariably required riders to lift and heave their bikes to the top which really pushed riders fitness. In dry conditions this hill would have been an absolute non-feature!

Breaking out of Slushy Gully riders joined back onto a forestry track and made their way down back to a forward across a small river and then on a short blast on a gravel road to the start of the next TT. After a short climb up a rocky forestry road the next TT started. It proceeded up a steep ridgeline track amongst stumps which required both speed and throttle control to make it up the hill. Riders had to dodge stumps one of which was ugly beast right at the top of the track. If you hit it too slow your bike would ‘case out’ on the stump then requiring you to manhandle your bike off the stump. Too fast then you would be deflected well of the track and out of control off the ridge line.

Upon clearing this hurdle it was a straight forward run for the remainder of the terrain test through the young pines before dropping down No Brakes Brown Hill towards the start finish area.  The final part of the terrain test involved a gnarly single track carved through clear fell with three log crossings thrown in for good measure. At the end of this riders could take a break before heading out again on the second loop to do it all again.  

Overall it was a big day out. Nothing of course compared to the AA and A Enduro riders who rode very ugly terrain with a 125km but was still a good stretch for us Vinduro Riders. Notwithstanding some early retirements due crashes, bike failures and in some cases exhaustion the reasonably low speed averages of 24 and 26 kph meant that most finishers were able to zero the course and finished intact. 

As best 5 rounds out of 6 will count, it will be the last chance for the regular riders to accrue points for the overall championship at the final round being held at by Power Adventures at Maramarua on 17 October.

For a full summary of the series results, checkout silverbullet.co.nz.

Santoft Sandshifter 12 July 2020

After being rudely interrupted by drought than the COVID 19 lockdown the NZ Vinduro Series reconvened with an updated schedule of three events to finish off the 2019/20 series, the first of which was the Santoft Sandshifter Vinduro held on Saturday 12 July. This round was incorporated as part of the National Enduro Series and Central Enduro Series and was held in the Santoft coastal forest just north of Bulls. 

After a pretty average week in terms of weather, the day of the event turned out nice and fine but with a cool chill flowing of the snow-capped mountains in the the distance. There was a huge turnout of riders for the event covering the whole spectrum from AA, A, B, Veterans, Juniors, Trail Ride Class and the cadre of Vinduro riders.  The course was largely same for all riders given the moderate terrain and all that was varied was the total distance to be travelled. For the Gold Vinduro Riders, they were scheduled to complete 71 kms with 3TTs while the silver riders would compete 50 kms with one TT and then enjoy a gentle 10km trail ride at the end of the day back to the pits. 

The first section of 22 kms distance with a moderate 22kph average and described as ‘sandy with lots of trees’. The section began with a cross country traverse over farmland before entering the forest proper; this early part of the course could easily trick riders into thinking that they would be in for a relatively smooth ride but this was not to be the case. It was not long after this that riders were deep in the forest  weaving between the trees trying to get into a rhythm while also coming to terms with shifting sand, and dodging stumps and roots.

After 10 minutes of forest riding the riders commenced their first TT. This TT was about 4km long over undulating terrain, there was absolutely no chance to rest or lose focus as the terrain as a miscalculation would easily result in riders nudging trees, hitting stumps, being deflected by exposed roots or being bogged down in soft sand or the occasional stream crossing. While the end of of the TT was a welcome sight, there was little to differentiate it from the remainder of the section and riders needed to stay on their toes all the way while trying keeping it smooth flowing.  Most of the vinduro riders arrived at the first check with their tongues hanging out but were able to clean the section with no or little time lost and had time to refuel without penalty. Then it was on on into the next section. 

The second section was 28kms long with an average speed of 24kph and described as sandy, trees and slash. The riders notes provided advised that there would be a need to ‘go like shit’ to make it on time. The entry point into this section was directly into some slash for about 500 metres or so. This made for some slow going initially before riders returned to the weaving tracks amongst the pines. Some parts of this forested section seemed a little easier going in places but the increasing distance was taking its toll on riders with hands, arms and legs burning up just keeping the the bikes on track. There were some small breaks in the course where the track crossed forest roads allowing riders to sit for a bit but generally it remained relentless battle of tree weaving. Then towards the end of the section there was about 3-4 kms of slash to navigate. This was tricky going in places requiring riders to select careful lines over the clear-fell while still trying to maintain some momentum. It was slow going and those riders who didn’t keep good speed up in the earlier part of the section paid for it dearly here as at the end of this was the fuel stop and checkpoint. This checkpoint also signalled the end of the competitive part of the ride for the silver riders but for the Gold another 22kms was required.  

Gold riders would have been forgiven for thinking that section three would be pretty much like section one but in fact it was sort of different again. Now with an average speed of 26kph, Gold riders would need to be blitz mode. The first part of this section commenced with a TT again through the trees and undulating sandy terrain. The trails were getting pretty torn up in places so good line selection was required to keep hustling while riders were also battling the effects of fatigue and energy loss. At 6km long this TT really sorted out the riders who were both fit and on their game. The end of the TT provided for a bit of light relief for riders as they were able to relax a bit on some more open forestry roads and trails but it wasn’t before long they were back into the forest into a really ugly section of track. While technically not difficult, it was almost impossible to get any flow going as riders navigated like a snake through old slash and amongst the very tight trees making it impossible to get anywhere near the 26kph average. This piece of track lasted for about 5km before opening up again into what was normal forest track riding. Another TT of 6km was undertaken towards the end of the section which broke the riders onto some farmland with a 2km ride back to the final checkpoint. 

The sight of the final checkpoint was a welcome relief for the Gold riders. For A and AA riders, they still had another 34kms to go over well used track – how they did it goodness knows.  In terms of overall results, in the Gold class, 24 year old Cody Davey on an XR 500 had an absolutely blistering performance with TT results equalling many of the top A and AA grade riders, followed closely by Craig Brown on an IT 175 and Mathew Kernohan on an XR 250. 

In the Silver class, Vince Gimblet (DR 400 T)  took out the overall honours followed by Chris Newman (RT 1) and David Hays (TT 250).  Of particular note for Vince was that he was the only Silver rider to clear the day with no time lost and also  that he went on to ride the remainder of Gold circuit and would have placed 4th in the gold class.  

Of the 25 riders competing 24 completed the required course with 12 riders loosing no time during the day. And generally the vinduro riders were turning is results that put many of the modern bikes and riders in attendance to shame.  But it would be fair to say it was big day out that demanded a lot of fitness and left all riders with aching muscles and bodies. David Vass riding the XL 250 Motosport and the winner of the Classic Class perhaps best summed it up “it was the easiest but hardest enduro” he had undertaken for many years. Not one you can say you enjoyed but can be proud you completed.  

For a full summary of results, checkout silverbullet.co.nz. The next event will be at Moonshine on Saturday 12 September.

Virgin Swamps 8 December 2019

The VSE is probably one of the longest running events of its type in NZ and is well known for the demands placed on riders and machinery. Over the years however WMCC has put in an enormous amount of effort to make the venue more rideable and sustainable from an environmental perspective. The effort put in place to build bridges over drains and swamps, placing grip treads up the more gnarly hills and protective riding strips over forestry roads all illustrates the enormous efforts that WMCC goes to limit environmental impacts and to preserve riding opportunities.

While these efforts also make for an easier ride,  Riverhead is not without it challenges as there are few places to rest as its pretty much all up single track forestry riding and all it takes is a bit of rain to turn riding conditions on its head. On the day 40 riders rolled up for the start. And with a weather forecast that promised thunderstorms and general weather inspired gloom, most riders and WMCC were anticipating a tricky day of grovelling through mud holes and over roots. 

With this in mind WMCC had planned a conservative two loop track comprising a 25 km and 18 km section with a few Gold bypasses thrown in for good measure to test the more advance riders. This would easily completed in good weather but in wet conditions would have been somewhat more challenging. Notwithstanding the reliability of weather forecasting, however, the fears of swamps and slippery roots were completely dashed with sun staying out for the duration of the event.

The first loop comprised mainly single track riding. Initially it was a quick familiarisation run through the special test section through the poplars at the old HQ before riders were channelled off into the forest proper. What was relatively smooth riding to begin with through the poplars then became a discipline of dodging pine trees and ruts, and riding roots. Line selection, throttle control and staying on your toes was the order of the day – it took a bit of getting used to but if you could get into a rhythm it was possible to maintain a good flow. While there was little in the way of wet patches on the track, some of the ruts held a few surprises being surprisingly deep in places and caught a few bikes and riders out. Likewise the occasional off camber root covered descents sent a few riders careering of the main track into the bush. With a reasonably generous speed average of 18km per hour most riders were able to clean the section with little difficulty leaving a bit of time at the checkpoint to regather their energy and undertake maintence as required. 

The commencement of the second loop signalled the first terrain test proper. After having had a run through on the test on the first loop, riders were well primed on what to expect. Grant Booth (CR 125 95) and John Refroy (XR 200) went head to head on this test with Grant taking the nod by only 1 second. They were closely followed by Craig Stevens (KDX 200 B1) and Mike Bennett (XR 200) only a few seconds behind.

Then it was on into the loop again but this time riders emerged from the deep forest at and traversed a more open clear fell section before entering back into the deep forest again.  While this section was shorter the average speed had been cranked up requiring riders to stay on the boil if they were to clean the section. On return to the old HQ the riders then commenced the second TT through the poplars before ending the day’s riding. 

For this terrain test a new line up of fast riders came through with Lyndon Wood (CAN AM 250) and Craig Wood (XR 250) equalling their times at 90 seconds followed closely by Craig Brown (IT 175) only two seconds behind. 

When all the scores were calculated for the day taking into account penalty points for age of riders and bikes the overall top 5 results for the Gold and Silver classes were as follows: 

Gold Class 

1 – Craig Brown (IT 175) – 296
2 – Jon Refroy (XR 200) - 301
3 – Mike Bennett (XR 200) – 302
4 - Lyndon Wood (CAN AM 250) – 303
5 – Craig Stevens (KDX 200) – 308 

Silver Class 

1 – Vince Gimblett (DR 400T) – 317
2 – Kerry Jones (XR 250) – 333
3 – Tup Moyes (RM 250) – 360
4 – Peter Moyes (KDX 200 B1) – 370
5 – Craig Wall (IT 200) - 384  

The detailed results can be viewed at silverbullet.co.nz

With only two rounds remaining in the series, competition for the overall series results is now building. The remaining rounds at Maramarua and Atiamuri always providing a good venues for testing for riders and bikes alike while also providing great tracks for those learning the ropes of Vinduro. For more information check out Vinduro NZ 

VINTAGE NORTH VINDURO 17 NOVEMBER 2019

After completing the rocks, rivers and ravines of Round 1 of the the NZ Vinduro Series at Moonshine in Wellington, the series riders headed to the Far North to do battle in Round 2.  As per last year Vinduro riders we were treated to good weather and fantastic terrain at the Vintage North Vinduro held at The Farm in Whangaruru on 17 November.

The event was well attended with a field of 40 vintage competitors attending plus local another 20 trail riders on modern bikes hitting out on the track just to have a day out. Similar to 2018 the track was divided into two 20 km loops but run in reverse this year with a an addition of an extra terrain test called the Car Graveyard.  This new terrain test was a very tight circuit designed to favour the smaller vintage bikes where the second terrain test was much more open was better suited to bikes with longer travel suspension – something for everyone. 

The day kicked off with a trial run through the second terrain test to gain familiarity then riders entered section one which and into the first terrain test at the Car Graveyard. While it was a little hard to get into the rhythm on the test first up it was the same for all riders – those that had good throttle control and agile riding skills did well.

After completing the TT it was on with the rest of the loop proceeding through a milking shed, into open farm land, over hills, through 4WD bush tracks and a round an MX track, plus for the Gold Riders a few forays into single track through the trees. The conditions were generally hard and fast in this section with riders being able to maintain good speed throughout but with the occasional bog hole in places to catch out the weary and keep riders on their toes. 

The return to the start finish area at The Farm signalled the start of the second loop. This commenced with the second terrain test (Escargot)  which included a lot of off camber terrain and hill sections and then into the escargot maze. Then it was on into the second section – this being generally steeper in places than the first loop but very scenic offering great views out over the Bay of Islands. For the Gold riders there was also additional single track sections to be completed through some more challenging terrain. Unfortunately progress through this loop was marred for some with arrows being knocked down causing a few riders to loose track of the course, and for the Gold riders, a traffic jam occurring in the final single track section resulting in delays.  While all riders got through the section, given the the few hick-ups experienced only the riders terrain test scores rather than trail time was counted for inclusion in this section. Then it was back out onto the first loop to complete the section, then to be followed by the final terrain test of the second loop to complete the day.

The results at the end of the day held few surprises with Craig Brown (IT 175), Lyndon Wood (CAN AM 250) and John Refroy (XR 200) taking out the top three places in the gold class and Craig Wood (XR 250), Tup Moyes (RM 250) and Peter Moyes (KDX 200) being the top finishers in the Silver Classes. 

The detailed results for the Vintage North can be viewed at silverbullet.co.nz but an overall summary is as follows:

Gold Vintage. Lee Forsythe (MX 250) from Hawkes Bay took out the class win over David Vass (XL 250) with both riders leaving Barry Moody (XL 250) and Andrew Robertson (TS 185) in their dust.

Gold Evo 1. Craig Brown (IT 175) from Auckland had some decent competition this round from Levin rider Lyndon Wood (CAN AM 250) to keep him on his toes but true to form Craig took out the class win by a 50 second margin with Greg Armstrong from Raglan coming in 3rd on the PE 175/Lifan hybrid.

Gold Evo 2. The Evo 2 class was also hotly contested between John Refroy (XR 200), Craig Stevens (KDX 200) and Mike Bennett (XR 200). While Mike easily had the fastest TT times he lost 6 minutes trail time leaving John to take take out the win closely followed by Craig.

Gold Evo 3. The Evo 3 class was a two horse XR 250 race between Simon Cleland (Auckland) and Mike Nicholson (Paraparumu) in that order with the remainder of the class DNFing.

Gold Pre 96 Modern.  In the  Modern class was hotly contested with RMX 250 rider Sam Helmore taking out the win  followed by William Hobson (XR 250) from Waipukurau and Paul Grayson from Auckland on another RMX 250.  

Silver Vintage. Ross Large from Cambridge on the TS 400 is really coming to gripos with his bike and turned out to be the only finisher in his class and taking home top honourers

Silver Evo 1. In the Evo 1 it was Tup Moyes (RM 250) and Vince Gimblett (DR 400) taking first and second place with no other finishers in the class

Silver Evo 2. Peter Moyes (KDX 200) was the clear winner of this class having a clean run throughout the day followed in 2nd and 3rd respectively by Ross Drummond (XR 200) and Bill Werry (IT 200)

Silver Evo 3. In the Evo 3s Levin rider Craig Wood (Levin) turned in a very competitive race followed by David Hays (TT 250) to take out second place with no other finishers

Silver Pre 96 Modern. In the moderns Kapiti rider Athony Woods (KDX 250) took out the overall class win with Alex O’Hara (WR 200) from Levin and Perry Hunt (KDX 200) from Wellington taking the remaining places.

The battle for the NZ Vinduro Series will continue on 8 December 2019 at Virgin Swamps at Riverhead (off Aririmu Valley Road). 

MOONSHINE VINDURO 21 SEPTEMBER 2019

Round 1 of the 2019/20 NZ Vinduro series kicked off on 22 September at Moonshine, deep in the heart of the Akatawara hills. As per last season, this event was combined with the Cental Enduro Series and likewise this year  riders were blessed with an absolute warm and sunny day – an absolute contrast to the weekend before where it poured with rain. So despite an early warning to riders in the preceding week that dust was not likely to be a problem, there was in fact a bit to be found on the more open tracks. But all was not lost - deep undercover of the trees and in places where the sun just doesn’t shine, there was still plenty of mud and water to be found to keep riders on their toes!  

28 riders took on the challenge this year. The course was comprised of two 35km identical loops with an additional 6k terrain test at the end for the Gold Riders making an all-out distance of 70km.  The very first part of the Vinduro commenced  with a warm up over 4 obstacles in the enduro x course which wasn’t so bad once you got your head round it. Then it was across the road to commence the the first 6km TT. This was pretty open going initially climbing up steep forestry roads and 4WD drive tracks, then cresting along the top of the hills and then popping in and out of a few single tracks amongst the young pine trees and then commencing the downhill 4WD tracks back to where the riders had started. While the downhills were fairly open they were both stepped and steep in places and required a steady approach to be taken to keep things under control. Of particular note at this point in the event was that Craig Brown (IT 175) broke the front brake cable mount on his hub and leaving him to ride the rest of the race with only a rear brake – how he managed the downhills only attests to his skills as an expert rider. And somewhat embarrassingly for the rest of us was that he also achieved some of the best TT times throughout the event. 

On completion of the first TT it was on a short transport section up another hill to then drop down to a section known as the Native Loop. This begins with some 4WD drive forestry tracks that lead into a native bush single track riding. The track was quite tricky here and while the terrain is not steep it was rocky and greasy in places making it easy to get deflected off the trail. Also the dappled light conditions made it quite difficult to see as your eyes are always adjusting to the shade then the sun then shade again.  After a few kms of this, riders popped out onto forestry roads blasting their way across the top of the hills. Here the next terrain test started and required riders to descend through a forest section known as Dicks yard. This involved riding down clay and rock 4WD tracks then into and single track through the trees. While the tracks were not steep there were some some pretty big rain ruts waiting to catch unaware riders.

After emerging from Dicks yard, it’s across a stream then a climb up a track called Sticky. This is an oxymoron – it should be called Slippery as the track surface is mirror clay for about 500 m and is generally wet all year round. But with good tyres, good momentum and judicious use of the throttle it’s an ok climb to the top.   Here the terrain changes again – this time we are on Blowfly and Curtis Road making our way down a strange combination of rocky, clay 4WD and swampy single tracks again. There are a few tricky parts to navigate here and then it is not long before you are at the bottom and then required to traverse through small river crossing it some 5 times. This year the water seemed quite low making things a bit easier but the rocky zig zag climb out of the river bed to the top of the following hill again remained super challenging – while totally rideable riders were again easily deflected by the loose rock.

At the top of the hill there was more forestry single trail which was tricky and steep in places with a killer uphill rut in one place which caught out many riders. It was pretty much a case of stay right and you will get to the top and to the end of the TT cleanly

After that riders were back into forestry roads and slick 4WDs tracks through Top Bogs, Toi Toi Road and Clearys Road. Clearys Road is known for its Tank Trap which a very deep hole created by 4WD vehicles then followed by a decent down bunch of clay ruts. Again this place is always wet and slick but having said that it is easy to navigate your way through but if you happen to fail to follow the right tracks you could be stuck there quite a while!   

At the end of Clearys there is double stream crossing then another climb up a forestry road to drop back down to the start finish area adjacent to the MX track to finish with another stream crossing. Most riders were able to clean the section with 10 minutes up their sleeve then it was out again to conduct the same loop but this time under higher average speed.  While riders had the benefit of knowing the track and what to expect the terrain is physically demanding so it did not necessarily make for an easier ride.

For the Silver riders the second loop signalled the end of the day but for the Gold it was followed by another 6km terrain test before they could call it quits.

After calculating the points for the day, John Rushworth from Silver Bullet Events confirmed the following outcomes: In the Gold Class young gun Matt Lauder (RMX 250) from Otaki took the overall win from Craig Brown (IT 175) from Auckland and Jon Refoy (XR 200) Whangaparoa. Of particular note was Craig’s results given he rode most of the event without a front brake and Jon who remains hyper competitive on the small four stroke despite the steep and rocky conditions of Moonshine.

In the Silver Class Lydon Wood from Levin  took out the overall win on a Can Am 250, followed closely by Vince Gimblett on a DR 400T (Pukekohe) and Mike Nicholson on an XR 250 (Paraparaumu). A huge thanks to the Kapi Mana Club and Silver Bullet Events for their tremendous support.

For the full results check out Silver Bullet

Silver Bullet Events website.