Tauranga’s Ben Townley made it back-to-back Woodville GP wins on Sunday, but this time it was not as clear-cut as many would have expected, certainly not as convincing as Townley may have liked.
Former world and American champion Townley (Carlton Dry Honda CRF450) won his first New Zealand Motocross GP at Woodville last season – with overseas commitments unfortunately keeping him away from the event for so many years.
The now 28-year-old celebrated victory on the historic track last season and had been widely tipped to make it two in a row at the Honda-sponsored event this time around.
Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper (Moto City Suzuki RM-Z450) made things tough for Townley in the MX1 class battles and Australian rider Todd Waters (KTM450) made life difficult for Townley in the ‘champion of champions’ invitation feature race.
In the end, Townley won the MX1 class from Cooper by finishing 2-1-1 in the three outings, shading Cooper’s 1-2-2 results by just three points, the fast-starting Suzuki rider forcing Townley to work hard for his pay.
In the one-off feature race, Townley found himself in third place early on, with British MX2 (250cc) class rider Jake Nicholls, on a 250cc KTM, leading at the start and Waters in second spot.
Townley was soon in second spot and then it was possibly just a matter of time before he hunted down and eventually passed the British GP star.
Townley stretched his advantage to win the race comfortably, but, he confessed afterwards, he’d been made to work hard for it, with the lead swapping several times as Waters made his own bid for victory.
“I’ve left things a little bit later in my build-up for the nationals (which kick off near Timaru in just two weeks’ time) and I guess that showed today,” he said. “It was certainly a tough day at the office. I feel pretty battered and bruised. I was hitting track marker pegs all over the place.”
Meanwhile, it perhaps, came as no surprise that world MX2 No.4 Nicholls (pictured above) won the MX2 class, taking three wins from three starts.
In the senior 125cc class it was Atiamuri’s Hadleigh Knight (CMR Red Bull KTM) won dominated, winning the day’s first two races and then settling for third in the final outing.
The top women’s class rider was Taupo’s Alex Dillon (Honda CRF250), who won the day ahead of Atiamuri’s Nikita Knight (KTM 250) and Rotorua’s Mel Patterson (BikesportNZ.com KTM 250).
As expected, Pahiatua’s United States cross-country champion Paul Whibley (Sargent Yamaha BikesportNZ.com YZ450F) won the separate river race event.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
Full story and more photos in your next issue of KIWI RIDER magazine.
Leading results from the 52nd annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville:
Invitation feature race:
1. Ben Townley (Tauranga, Honda); 2. Todd Waters (Australia, KTM); 3. Kirk Gibbs (Australia, KTM); 4. Michael Phillips (Rotorua, Honda); 5. Jake Nicholls (Great Britain, KTM).
1. Ben Townley (Tauranga, Honda) 72 points;
2. Cody Cooper (Mount Maunganui, Suzuki) 69;
3= Justin McDonald (Christchurch, Honda) and Michael Phillips (Rotorua, Honda) 50.
1. Jake Nicholls (Great Britain, KTM) 75;
2. Scott Columb (Queenstown, Yamaha) 60;
3. Darryll King (Hamilton, Yamaha) 58.
1. Hadleigh Knight (Atiamuri, KTM) 70;
2. Cameron Vaughan (Rotorua, Yamaha) 64;
3. Logan Blackburn (Te Puke, Yamaha) 59.
1. Alex Dillon (Taupo, Honda) 72;
2. Nikita Knight (Atiamuri, KTM) 60;
3. Mel Patterson (Rotorua, KTM) 55.
1. Darryll King (Hamilton, Yamaha) 75;
2. Mitch Rowe (New Plymouth, KTM) 66;
3= Dean Baird (Christchurch, KTM) 51 and James McNabney (Waimauku, Yamaha) 51.
1. Paul Whibley (Pahiatua, Yamaha) 50;
2. Mitch Rowe (New Plymouth, KTM) 44;
3. Chris Power (Auckland, Yamaha) 38.
Junior 14-16 years’ 250cc class:
1. Jesse Dobson (Australia, Kawasaki) 75 points;
2. James Anderson (Levin, KTM) 66;
3. Hayden Kanters (Otorohanga, Kawasaki) 58.
Junior 15-16 years’ 125cc class:
1. Hadleigh Knight (Atiamuri, KTM) 75;
2. Aaron Wiltshier (Tauranga, KTM) 66;
3. Cohen Chase (Taupo, KTM) 60.
Junior 12-14 years’ 125cc class:
1. Josiah Natzke (Hamilton, Yamaha) 75;
2. Jayden Turnwald (Onewhero, Suzuki) 64;
3. Reece Walker (Nelson, KTM) 62.
Junior 13-16 years’ 85cc class:
1. Bryn Gilbert (Alexandra, Honda) 65;
2. Jacob Steel (Te Awamutu, Honda) 64;
3. Blake James (Christchurch, Yamaha) 58.
Junior 11-12 years’ 85cc class:
1. Maximus Purvis (Mangakino, Honda) 72;
2. Tony Cvitanovich (Feilding, KTM) 65;
3. Blake Cobbin (Australia, KTM) 64.
Junior 8-10 years’ 85cc class:
1. Brodie Connolly (Matamata, KTM) 75;
2. Grayson Veitch (Dunedin, KTM) 64;
3= Jake Meikle (Invercargill, KTM) 56
3= Bailey Hardwidge (Turangi, Honda) 56.
Champion of champions (125cc and 250cc):
1. Hadleigh Knight; 2. Hayden Kanters; 3. Josiah Natzke.
Champion of champions (85cc and 150cc):
1. Wyatt Chase (Taupo, KTM); 2. Jacob Steel; 3. Blake James.