The 35-year-old Kiwi motocross international finished with a ranking of No.11 in the United States this season, but that obviously translates into No.1 in New Zealand.
Cooper took his Honda CRF450 to easily dominate racing in the premier MX1 class at the 47th annual edition of the Honda Summercross event at Matata, near Whakatane, on Sunday.
The multi-time former New Zealand No.1 finished with an impressive 1-1-1-2-1 score-card over his five MX1 races on Sunday, while his nearest rival, fellow Mount Maunganui rider Rhys Carter, managed 2-2-2-1-2 results.
Third best on the day in this class was Motueka’s former Grand Prix motocross star Josh Coppins, while Taupo’s Cohen Chase and Reporoa’s Hadleigh Knight rounded out the top five.
This win earned former Opotiki man Cooper his fifth Summercross victory overall and his fourth in a row at the popular annual Bay of Plenty event.
“I did the right things in the past two months coming into this event. My training has been good and my heart rate was good today,” said Cooper.
“I wasn’t necessarily pushing 100 percent, but I don’t think anyone could around here. It was pretty sketchy in places.
“I have been training hard since the Waikato Motocross Champs (in November), running, cycling and mountain-biking, but the main thing is the changes we’ve made with the suspension. I could stand up today where I wanted and put the bike where I wanted and feel comfortable doing it.”
The big annual post-Christmas Honda Summercross has been good to Cooper over the years, but, most significantly, he undoubtedly showed this time around that he has the class, the determination and superb machinery to push on and perhaps reclaim his national No.1 title when the four-round nationals kick off in Taranaki in early February.
Cooper has little time to rest before he lines up at the annual King of the Mountain motocross in Taranaki on January 20, followed by the annual Honda New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville on January 26-27.
“It was good to win this event today for Honda, because they sponsor this event at Whakatane. They sponsor the Woodville event too and I like that one too.”
“I feel like the bike is mint. I wish I could have got better starts today, but it didn’t work out.
“I feel like I’m in pretty unbelievable form at the moment, at one with my bike. I’m feeling confident ahead of the nationals.”
After Woodville, Cooper will then prepare to win his seventh national MX1 crown in the New Zealand Motocross Championships, the first of four rounds in that series set for Taranaki on February 3.
Meanwhile, Cooper’s Honda team-mate, Taupo’s Wyatt Chase, finished runner-up to Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis in the MX2 (250cc) class.
Third best in the MX2 category was Rangiora’s Micah McGoldrick.
Wairoa’s Tommy Watts won the Youth MX (125cc) class.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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