Currently showing a rich vein of form, the Honda star from Mount Maunganui claiming another major victory on Sunday for the fourth time in almost as many weeks.
The 35-year-old Kiwi international won the MX1 class at the annual Honda Whakatane Summercross just after Christmas and then he won the MX1 class at the Taranaki track when it hosted the annual King of the Mountain Motocross just two weeks ago.
Then, just a week later, just seven days before the nationals opener in Taranaki, Cooper won the MX1 class again, and the event’s key trophy, at the annual Honda New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville.
At the weekend it was the start of his bid to reclaim the New Zealand MX1 championship title, with the opening round of four in the series being staged at the Barrett Road Motocross Park, on the outskirts of New Plymouth, on Sunday.
Cooper finished the day in Taranaki with a 2-1-1 score-card, enough to give him a three-point edge over his nearest threat, defending champion Kirk Gibbs (Altherm JCR Yamaha).
Australian visitor Gibbs registered a 1-2-2 score-card to settle for the runner-up position, while Mangakino’s Kayne Lamont (Altherm JCR Yamaha) chimed in with three third placings and he took the third step on the MX1 podium, nine points adrift of Gibbs.
Cooper is a six-time former New Zealand MX1 champion and did not take kindly to losing his crown to Gibbs last season, something he is determined to rectify this year.
“The first race was frustrating because I just couldn’t find a way past Kirk (Gibbs). Well, I actually did get past him at one stage, but then I went off a jump sideways and lost that position again. I was probably a little bit too relaxed here.
“I was trying to tippy-toe around the track today, to not make any mistakes,” said Cooper.
“There are parts of this Taranaki track where you can be pushing and feel good and then suddenly it all lets go.
“As long as I was in the hunt for the title when I left here today I would be happy and I’m actually leading the way, so that’s even better.”
Round two of the New Zealand Motocross Championships is set for Rotorua in just two weeks’ time (on February 17). Round three follows at Pukekohe on February 24 and, finally, the nationals wrap up at Taupo on March 10.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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