Not since Jock McLaughlan’s win 20 years ago has there been such a comprehensive win at the big Yamaha Tarawera 100 dirt bike endurance race as was witnessed at this year’s edition, near Whakatane on Saturday.
Cody Cooper (MotoGB Suzuki RM-Z450) enjoyed a thrilling start-to-finish win at this 33rd annual running of the great race, leaping to the lead before the 218-rider field had even reached the first corner … and he never looked back from there.
The Mount Maunganui rider stretched his lead over Waitakere’s Shaun Fogarty (KTM EXC300) to nearly two minutes by the end of the first of four 38-kilometre laps, raced over steep and undulating farmland at the tiny settlement of Te Teko.
Cooper rode flawlessly over his 152-kilometre journey and was never threatened over the gruelling race that lasted near three hours.
By race end, Cooper was more than three minutes in front of Fogarty, with last year’s Tarawera 100 champion, Cambridge’s Damien King (Yamaha YZ450F), taking third place, another minute further back.
“The bike was so crisp. I skidded off the start and I thought I wouldn’t get away cleanly, but then it hooked up and that was that,” said Cooper.
“I have not raced this event in a few years – not since I won here in 2007 – but had nothing else to do this weekend and I do so much enjoy racing here,” said the 26-year-old.
Cooper heads back across the Tasman this coming weekend where he will tackle the next round of the Australian Motocross Championships. He is currently running sixth in the MX1 class in Australia.
Meanwhile, Whitby’s Rory Mead (Yamaha YZ250F) finished fourth on Saturday, nearly two minutes behind King, with Tauranga’s Reece Burgess (Husaberg FE450) coming home fifth and Whakatane teenager Mitchell Rees (Yamaha YZ450F) taking sixth spot.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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