This year’s New Zealand Motocross Championships could be one of the closest-fought in the history of the sport in this country.
With many Kiwi internationals either staying at home or returning from overseas assignments to contest the Demon Energy-sponsored series this season, the calibre and depth of talent expected to line up at round one near Timaru this weekend (October 11) is truly impressive.
The series runs for four rounds this season, set to wrap up near New Plymouth on November 15, and it’s likely the chase for titles will go right down to the wire.
The defending champion in both the 500cc and 125cc classes, Cambridge’s Damien King (pictured above), is determined to defend his two titles but he’ll have national 250cc champion Daryl Hurley, of Hawera, to contend with in the big bike class this time around.
Joining King and Hurley in the 500cc class will be Mount Maunganui pair Mason Phillips and Cody Cooper and Christchurch’s Justin McDonald. Phillips is returning from a successful stint of racing in the Canadian nationals this season, while Cooper finished an impressive eighth in the United States this year and McDonald also tasted racing at the top level in the US this season.
Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper, who finished an impressive eighth in the US nationals this season, is also expected to front up on a 450cc machine at Timaru and he rates as the title favourite.
Riders such as Christchurch’s Hayden McKay, Wellington’s Jayden Jessup, Wellington’s Barry Morris and Auckland’s Blake Gillard will also be worth watching.
With Hurley not defending his 250cc title, it could be furious in the quarter-litre class, with Palmerston North’s Rhys Carter, Queenstown’s Scotty Columb, Rotorua’s Michael Phillips, Tauranga’s Peter Broxholme, Gisborne’s Matt Hunt and Taupo’s Nick Saunders among those likely to feature.
Each of these riders has international racing experience, Columb and Phillips returning from their respective campaigns in the United Kingdom and also having represented New Zealand at the Motocross of Nations in Italy just last weekend.
Waitakere’s Ethan Martens, Taupo’s Cameron Dillon, Cambridge’s Kieran Leigh and Wellington brothers Henry and Tommy Madams also come highly-rated.
The 125cc class — traditionally a breeding ground for young talent — will see wily old fox King up against a flock of very fast youngsters, including Mangakino’s Kayne Lamont and Auckland’s Matthew Prumm.
Rotorua’s Cam Negus, a veteran at this level of competition and who finished fourth in the 125cc class last year, should also shine.
2009 DEMON ENERGY NEW ZEALAND MOTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Round one, October 11, 2009, Timaru
Round two, October 18, 2009, Rotorua
Round three, November 8, 2009, Patetonga
Round four, November 15, 2009, New Plymouth.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com