Let’s travel back a decade and see what happened at Woodville in January 2008 … and you’ll spot the name of current superbike ace Mitch Rees popping up in the junior motocross results.
Anyway, as we prepare for the 2019 edition of the iconic event, we hope you’ll enjoy it as we roll back the clock 10 years and share this snapshot from our news archives .
THE FUN AND GAMES ARE OVER
The fun and games are over; now let the serious stuff begin.
Those words were going through the minds of four Kiwi internationals as they packed away their bikes and helmets at the end of the day at the 47th annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville (in January 2008).
Motueka’s Josh Coppins (Yamaha), Hawera’s Daryl Hurley (Suzuki), Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper (Honda) and Pahiatua’s Paul Whibley (Suzuki) thrilled the large crowd as they dominated racing at Woodville on Sunday but this week the men head off in different directions, each of them to face even greater challenges.
Factory Yamaha rider Coppins, the world motocross No.3, was unbeaten at Woodville, although forced to fend off stern tests from Hurley and Cooper before he could claim the 500cc class honours. The 30-year-old also won the all-capacities, best-of-the-best, one-off international feature race.
He will have little time to clean up his gear before he catches his flight to Belgium and a series of four international motocross meetings in different parts of Europe, more warm-up events before the 2008 world championship season kicks off in the Netherlands in April.
Using Woodville as part of his build-up programme, Coppins made it many happy returns as he came back to race the popular farmland track at the eastern end of the Manawatu Gorge for the first time since 2001.
“I expected them (Hurley and Cooper) to be right up there with me today and I admit that, in the day’s first race, I was stretched a bit. I am used to having more time to warm up before I race and then the races are much longer in the world championships too.
“These races today were sprints for me. But that’s good because it meant I had to go hard from the beginning. And that’s what I need to do in Europe this year too.
“I’m not yet at my peak. I need to be peaking in April, not now; and then I need to maintain that strength and speed for seven or eight months. But Woodville was a good work-out for me.”
Coppins’ “work-out” was an unbeaten string of four wins, against the best New Zealand has to offer, and that may ring alarm bells for his world championship rivals.
Runner-up to Coppins was national 500cc champion and fellow international Hurley.
“I was trying very hard to beat Josh today. I showed good pace but Josh was just a little quicker. I think it gives me something to work on as I build up for (another season of racing in) Australia.”
Third best in the 500cc class was Cooper, who hounded Coppins all the way to the finish in the day’s opening race, then he twice finished third, behind Coppins and Hurley.
Cooper leaves for Florida this week, where he’ll prepare to tackle the American Motocross Championships. He raced several rounds there last season – on the same factory-prepared Honda he rode at Woodville on Sunday – and his best finish was a fifth overall at the round in Texas.
Cross-country specialist Whibley made a huge splash in winning both the crowd-pleasing river races, an impressive farewell ride as he too flies off to the United States this week. He finished sixth in the American Grand National Cross-country (GNCC) series last year and is again expected to be a front-runner this season.
Hamilton’s Darryll King (Yamaha), a former Woodville winner and two-time former world championship runner-up, celebrated his first ride back from injury by scoring a hat-trick of wins in the 250cc two-stroke class, while Hawera’s Luke Burkhart was similarly unbeaten in the 250cc four-stroke class. King’s younger brother Damien King, the national 125cc champion, won all three 125cc races.
It came as no surprise that veterans’ world champion Tony Cooksley (Yamaha) and women’s world champion Katherine Prumm (Kawasaki) both easily won their respective classes.
Leading results from the 47th annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville, January 2008:
International feature race: 1. Josh Coppins (Motueka, Yamaha); 2. Daryl Hurley (Hawera, Suzuki); 3. Cody Cooper (Mount Maunganui, Honda); 4. Justin McDonald (Christchurch, Honda); 5. Scott Columb (Queenstown, Suzuki).
GP 500: 1. Coppins 75 points; 2. Hurley 64; 3. Cooper 62.
GP250 two-stroke: 1. Darryll King (Hamilton, Yamaha) 75; 2. Ollie Sharp (Auckland, Suzuki) 66; 3. Shannon Hewetson (Nelson, Yamaha) 60.
GP250 four-stroke: 1. Luke Burkhart (Hawera, Suzuki) 75; 2. Damien King (Cambridge, Yamaha) 62; 3. Columb 60.
GP125: 1. Damien King (Cambridge, Yamaha) 75; 2. Cameron Negus (Rotorua, Yamaha) 62; 3. Shaun Fogarty (Auckland, Kawasaki) 60.
River race: 1. Paul Whibley (Pahiatua, Suzuki) 50; 2. Negus 44; 3. Renny Johnston (New Plymouth, Suzuki) 38.
Veterans: 1. Tony Cooksley (Auckland, Yamaha) 72; 2. Brent Scammell (Winton, Honda) 67; 3. Moston Wadsworth (Blenheim, Honda) 62.
Saturday (juniors and women):
Champion of champions, 125cc: 1. Cameron Dillon (Mangakino, Honda); 2. Scott Barr-Smith (Tauranga, Yamaha); 3. John Phillips (Rotorua, Kawasaki).
Champion of champions, 85cc: 1. Mitchell Rees (Whakatane, Yamaha); 2. Roydon White (Tauranga, Yamaha) 3. Blake Hardman (Wellington, KTM).
Women’s GP: 1. Katherine Prumm (Auckland, Kawasaki) 75 points; 2. Nikki Scott (Auckland, KTM) 66; 3. Nikita Knight (Atiamuri, KTM) 60.
14-16 years’ 250cc: 1. Hamish Dobbyn (Warkworth, Yamaha) 75; 2. Henry Madams (Wellington, KTM) 62; 3. Ethan Martens (Waitakere, Yamaha) 60.
15-16 years’ 125cc: 1. Kieran Leigh (Cambridge, Yamaha) 70, 2. Cameron Dillon (Mangakino, Honda) 67; 3. Ethan Martens (Waitakere, Yamaha) 64.
12-16 years’ 150cc: 1. Hamish Harwood (Takaka, Honda) 72; 2. Stuart Young (Napier, Honda) 69; 3. Michael Beaumont (Levin, Honda) 60.
12-14 years’ 125cc: 1. Tom Managh (Wanganui, Suzuki) 69; 2. Craig Smith (Christchurch, Honda) 67; 3. Joel Doeksen (Clevedon, Yamaha) 61.
13-16 years’ 85cc: 1. Callum Moore (Featherston, Yamaha) 69; 2. Mitchell Rees (Whakatane, Yamaha) 65; 3. Roydon White (Tauranga, Yamaha) 62.
11-12 years’ 85cc: 1. Brandon Tipene (Albany, KTM) 69; 2. Dion Picard (Atiamuri, Suzuki) 61; 3. Hadleigh Knight (Atiamuri, KTM) 60.
8-10 years’ 85cc: 1. Riley McPherson (Dunedin, Suzuki) 65; 2. Jacob Scammell (Winton, Honda) 63; 3. Joel Miekle (Oamaru, Honda) 62.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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