It was an ‘almost perfect’ performance from Mount Maunganui’s defending MX1 class champion Cody Cooper at the second round of four in the New Zealand Motocross Championships in Tokoroa on Sunday.
Riding for The Honda Shop Racing Team, Cooper started the day as he meant to go on by qualifying his fire-engine red Honda CRF450 at the top of the talent-laden, international calibre field on Sunday morning.
He then proceeded to blitz the competition in the three MX1 races that followed, the hat-trick of wins boosting his advantage at the top of the standings to an awesome 21 points over the man who is emerging as his nearest rival, Scottish former Grand Prix racer Billy MacKenzie (Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing YZ450F).
Cooper had led the MX1 class after a scintillating display of riding at round one near Timaru a fort night ago, edging out Australian KTM star Ford Dale on that occasion, but now it’s MacKenzie who has the No.2 spot in the pecking order.
Neither Dale, MacKenzie, nor any of the other heavyweight 450cc riders could match the Honda star on Sunday, with Cooper simply running away with all three MX1 races.
The only factor that made Cooper’s day anything less than perfect, according to his hard task-master team manager Ben Townley, was that he did not holeshot all three races.
But that was soon rectified by Cooper and, once in front, he was un-catchable.
“Yes, it was an almost perfect day. He qualified fastest and won all three motos and took two out of three holeshots. He showed consistency, perfect execution and he was mistake-free,” said Townley afterwards.
“What stood out for me today was just how well his bike handled everything. We knew it was going to be rough on this track today and we needed to be one step ahead of the track changes, not chasing things to catch up.
“We adjusted the suspension settings slightly before each race, anticipating it was going to get rougher and rougher throughout the day. The pit crew did a wonderful job.”
Cooper was also full of praise for his support crew.
“Ben was fantastic in helping me with advice and line choices and my two mechanics, Blair Meyer and Craig Guy were awesome.
“I’m happy to get three wins today. It was all about respecting the track. That’s what got me through.”
Cooper is looking forward to the two remaining rounds – at Pukekohe in a fortnight and at Taupo on March 22 – before he heads away to ride an identical Honda CRF450 for the Penrite Honda Team in Australia. He will have Australian rider Josh Cachia as his team-mate, to ride the MX2 class.
Leading standings after two of four rounds:
MX1 class: 1. Cody Cooper (Mount Maunganui) 145 points; 2. Billy MacKenzie (Scotland) 124; 3 equal. Ford Dale (Australia) and Brad Groombridge (Taupo) and Kirk Gibbs (Australia) 110.
MX2 class: 1. Kayne Lamont (Mangakino) 141 points; 2. Hamish Dobbyn (Dargaville) 114; 3. Scott Columb (Queenstown) 112; 4. Jay Wilson (Australia) 111; 5. Hamish Harwood (Takaka) 97.
125cc class: 1. Josiah Natzke (Hamilton) 139 points; 2. Hadleigh Knight (Atiamuri) 119; 3. Logan Blackburn (Te Puke) 104; 4. Aaron Wiltshier (Tauranga) 82; 5. Beau Yeandle (Morrinsville) 81.
Full results HERE, courtesy of Nicole Bol of MXTiming
Full story and more photos in your next issue of KIWI RIDER magazine.
Check back here as we bring you more background and stories from Tokoroa, and more photos too, all through this week as we build up to the next round, at Pukekohe next month.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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