A Mount Maunganui rider is one of the two new champions crowned following the 2014 New Zealand Motocross Championships in Taupo yesterday.
Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper (Honda) won the MX1 class, Mangakino’s Kayne Lamont (Husqvarna) won the MX2 (250cc) title and Hamilton’s Josiah Natzke (KTM) finished top of the 125cc class when the Backflips Clothing-sponsored four-round series wound at Taupo’s Digger McEwen race circuit on Saturday.
Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper. Photo: file.
All three riders began the day with the lead in their respective classes, each of them with an entire race up their sleeves, but still they could not relax with a swarm of very talented challengers breathing down their necks.
Cooper is no stranger to winning at this level, the Mount Maunganui man having previously won motocross titles in Australia and New Zealand, and he had won the MX1 class here before too, in 2011 and again last season, and so his result this season perhaps came as no surprise.
And his dominance again this season was impressive - he won nine of the series’ 12 races and finished no lower than third in the other outings.
He started the day a whopping 37 points ahead of Scottish visitor Billy MacKenzie (Yamaha) and, after finishing 1-1-3 in Taupo on Saturday, he was able to extend his advantage to 51 points at the conclusion of the championship, with Taupo’s Brad Groombridge (Suzuki) taking third spot on the podium, just one point further back.
"It was a tough day," says the 30-year-old Cooper afterwards, despite the fact he wrapped up the MX1 title after just the first two of Saturday’s three MX1 races.
Meanwhile, in the MX2 class, Mangakino’s Lamont realised a career-long dream of winning a senior national title.
This was Lamont’s first major win as a senior racer and the circumstances of his title win on Saturday was the stuff of legend -- he had been on the operating table at Rotorua Hospital on Thursday night having his appendix removed and it was a heavily-strapped and bandaged Lamont who lined to race at Taupo just two days later.
As happened with Cooper, Lamont had wrapped up the MX2 title with a race left to run and so, in substantial pain, he opted out of the series’ final MX2 race. He still finished the championship 11 points ahead of Dargaville’s Hamish Dobbyn (KTM).
Australian Visitor Jay Wilson (Yamaha) finished third overall in the MX2 championship, 27 points behind Dobbyn.
Meanwhile, in the 125cc class, two reigning national junior champions dominated the series.
Hamilton’s 2013 junior national 12-14 years’ 125cc class champion Natzke led by a healthy 35-point margin at the start of racing at Taupo and soon extended that to 74 points by the end of the afternoon, winning his first senior title ahead of 2013 junior national 14-16 years’ 250cc four-stroke champion Hadleigh Knight, of Atiamuri.
Third overall in the 125cc championship was Te Puke’s Logan Blackburn (Yamaha) who, unfortunately, crashed out of the day at the start of race two and, with a broken collarbone, he was unable to return to the track.
Leading final standings in the 2014 New Zealand Motocross Championships:
1. Cody Cooper (Mount Maunganui, Honda) 287 points;
2. Billy MacKenzie (Scotland, Yamaha) 236;
3. Brad Groombridge (Taupo, Suzuki) 235;
4. Michael Phillips (Rotorua, Honda) 181;
5. Kirk Gibbs (Australia, KTM) 157.
1. Kayne Lamont (Mangakino, Husqvarna) 254;
2. Hamish Dobbyn (Dargaville, KTM) 243;
3. Jay Wilson (Australia, Yamaha) 216;
4. Scott Columb (Queenstown, Yamaha) 209;
5. John Phillips (Rotorua, Honda) 200.
1. Josiah Natzke (Hamilton, KTM) 289;
2. Hadleigh Knight (Atiamuri, KTM) 215;
2. Logan Blackburn (Te Puke, Yamaha) 190;
4. Ryan Metz (Tauranga, Yamaha) 158;
5. Beau Yeandle (Morrinsville, Yamaha) 146.