However, all those best intentions of enjoying some rest and relaxation before rejoining his team in Europe went out the window and just the slightest of arm twisting was needed to get the 19-year-old Honda star back on a bike while he’s home in New Zealand.
With backing from Auckland company Cannon Signage Concepts and Blue Wing Honda, Mount Maunganui’s Natzke lined up in the SX2 (250cc) class at the inaugural S-X Open Auckland supercross on Saturday evening, the extreme moonscape circuit laid out inside Mt Smart Stadium.
This massive event – which attracted a crowd in excess of 21,000 – also registered as the first of three rounds of the New Zealand Supercross Championships, for this SX2 class only, as so that become even more motivation for Natzke and his sponsors to enter.
Natzke ended up third overall in the SX2 class on Saturday night, the best-performed of the Kiwis and he will now take that points advantage with him to round two of the New Zealand Supercross Championships at the Lucas Oil Motocross Park at Amisfield, in Tokoroa, this coming Saturday.
Natzke finished behind American rider Dakota Alix (KTM) and Australian Ryan Marmont (KTM) in the SX2 class at Mt Smart Stadium, but neither of these two men will be racing at Tokoroa.
“It’s a great way to kick-start my New Zealand supercross title bid,” said Natzke.
“I have not raced since arriving home from Europe in September, so I knew Saturday night was going to be tough. But I enjoyed it immensely.
“The track was brutal and riding in front of so many people made me a little nervous, but I was happy with how I performed.
“I’m going back to Germany at the end of January, so the New Zealand Supercross Champs will be the only racing I’m now doing at home.
“It’s been a while since I’ve won anything in New Zealand, so it would be nice if I can take a Kiwi title away this season.”
There was a huge Honda presence at Mt Smart on Saturday night with just-crowned Australian SX1 champion Justin Brayton, from the United States, leading the charge.
He was joined on the track by fellow Honda stars Brett Metcalfe, from Australia, and American riders Josh Hansen and Christian Craig.
“I wrapped up my third Australian supercross title in a row in Sydney (two weeks ago), but it was a little frustrating for me in Auckland,” Brayton admitted.
“I had a little mechanical problem in my first heat race (a sticky throttle) and that meant I had last gate pick the whole night, which put me at a huge disadvantage, otherwise I felt like I could have done better.
“I just love racing and the support I have had from Honda here, in Australia and New Zealand, has been amazing. I head now to Switzerland on Wednesday to do a race over there.
“I had my best season ever in the United States (winning round 10 of the 2018 AMA Supercross Nationals in Daytona and finishing the series fifth overall) and now I will continue building for round one of the 2019 AMA Supercross series at Anaheim (in California, on January 5).”
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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