With two reigning national champions in their number, it probably came as little surprise when the Pukekohe Motorcycle Club won this year’s edition of the Battle of the Clubs motocross in Taupo on Saturday.
National MX1 champion Cody Cooper and national junior 250cc champion Jack Dunlop propelled the Pukekohe contingent to an impressive 39-point win at the 2019 Battle of the Clubs (BOTC) fundraiser event.
The BOTC was inaugurated 10 years ago as a fun way to raise funds for New Zealand’s assault on the annual Motocross of Nations (MXoN), the “Olympic Games of motocross”, the 2019 edition of which is to be held in The Netherlands this September.
A team from the Pukekohe Motorcycle Club won the inaugural BOTC in 2010 and this year’s team manager for the club, Craig Brown, said he was thrilled to be able to clinch the trophy for a second time.
“The team rode well,” he said, in classic understatement. “Jack Dunlop (junior 250cc class) went 1-1 in the juniors and Cody Cooper (MX2 class) went 1-2 in the seniors. Our riders raced consistently and rode smart.
“It was a team manager role for me for the first time this year and I enjoyed it. I usually race, but I have a bit of an injury. It wasn’t a tough job being manager, they all knew what they had to do. I just needed to nurse young Reuben Smith along, because he was on an 85cc bike against the 125cc and 250cc riders in the junior races. I told him not to try to bully the bigger bike riders around because he’ll come off second best.
“We had a lot of supporters here today and that was good to see.”
Interestingly, some of the best racing on Saturday was between Taranaki’s Daryl Hurley and Tauranga’s Ben Townley, two men in the past who have represented New Zealand at the international Motocross of Nations.
Neither Hurley nor Townley managed to survive the MX1 class qualifying race without mishap and were therefore surprisingly relegated to the B division, this outcome costing their respective club teams dearly, but it didn’t stop the duo, along with Bay of Plenty’s Tyler Steiner and Hawke’s Bay’s Jye Deacon, from putting on a great show at the front of the two MX1/MX2/Vets group B races.
Unfortunately, news was also released on Saturday that all three members of New Zealand’s team that raced the MXoN in the United States last year are unavailable to race this year.
This leaves Motorcycling New Zealand motocross commissioner Ray Broad and Team New Zealand co-managers Bevan Weal and Shayne King with the task of finding a completely new team before September.
“Last year’s riders are unavailable because of either injury or for personal reasons, so this year we have a clean slate,” said Broad.
“What we’ve got is an application process in place and we’ll do full interviews with the applicants and then review from there our representation options.
“It is still the intention that we send a team (to the Netherlands). However, if we are unable to make a team, we’ll let everyone know in due course. This event is tough and it’s not a holiday. We need to have riders in the team that will represent New Zealand well at the event.”
New Plymouth’s King, the 1996 world champion a rider for New Zealand at the MXoN many times in the past, said the race track at Assen would be “brutal” and applicants should be under no illusions about how tough it will be.
“Every year it’s the toughest motocross event in the world, but the circuit at Assen will be particularly challenging. It’s very deep sand, like nothing New Zealand riders will have encountered before.”
Perhaps the next team of Kiwi internationals will emerge from the excellent racing that was witnessed in Taupo on Saturday.
The host Taupo Motorcycle Club again produced a splendid track for Saturday’s racing, with volunteers giving up their time to groom and maintain it, while its officials ensured the programme ran like clockwork.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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LEADING FINAL STANDINGS:
Leading final standings from the 2019 Battle of the Clubs motocross at Taupo on Saturday (Note: Team with fewest points wins):
Clubs overall: 1. Pukekohe MCC 74 points; 2. Manawatu-Orion MCC 113; 3. Christchurch Off-road MCC 129; 4. Cambridge MCC 131; 5. Gold Coast MCC 145.
Senior Teams overall: 1. Pukekohe MCC 25 points; 2. Christchurch Off-road MCC 28; 3. Cambridge MCC 60.
Junior Teams overall: 1. Bay of Plenty MCC 31 points; 2. Manawatu-Orion MCC 33; 3. Pukekohe MCC 49.
Mini Teams overall: 1. Taranaki MCC 27 points; 2. Cambridge MCC 29; 3. Gold Coast MCC 30.
Full results from main track HERE
Full results from mini track HERE