The 25-year-old from West Auckland arrived at the Horohoro farmland circuit, off State Highway 30, just 20 kilometres south of Rotorua, with a six-point lead in the premier MX1 class following his solid performance at the series opener near Woodville last month.
But, after his three 20-minute MX1 class races on Sunday, Harwood left the Bay of Plenty track with his championship lead massively enhanced.
He took his distinctive orange KTM450F bike to win all three MX1 races on the redesigned track at Horohoro, finishing the day ahead of Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper (Honda) and Taupo’s Wyatt Chase (Yamaha).
In doing so, Harwood has swollen his lead from six points to 16 over his nearest threat, multi-time national MX1 champion Cooper.
Harwood finished last season’s nationals ranked third in the MX1 class, but he is no stranger to winning motocross titles – he is a four-time former New Zealand MX2 champion (winning that crown in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019) and he is also a former Australian Under-19 Champion (gaining that distinction in 2013).
He’s now well on target to clinch the “big one”, his first New Zealand MX1 title.
“As far as points goes, it couldn’t have gone much better for me at Rotorua this weekend. I did what I needed to do. In each race, I simply put myself in a good position and then just monitored where the other riders were,” said Hardwood afterwards.
“In the second race I was under a bit of pressure from Cooper. I couldn’t tell where on the track I was faster or where he was the faster rider, but I didn’t take the option to change my lines and risk making a mistake.
“I had a rough couple of laps early on in the third race. The track was unpredictable. I knew I just needed to focus. Then I put a charge on and got the win.
“The next round at Pukekohe will be different because it’s a hard clay surface. It’s so different from what we had at Rotorua. Everyone is the same speed at Pukekohe because it’s a lot like road-racing … such a hard-pack track. But I do like that track.
Other class winners on Sunday were Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis (MX2 class); Otautau’s Jack Treloar (under-19 years); Tauranga’s Madoc Dixon (MX125 class) and Tauranga’s Josh Nijhuis (MX3 class).
The series now continues on at Pukekohe on Saturday, March 20, and the final round at Taupo will go ahead the following weekend, on Sunday, March 28.
Senior NZ Motocross Champs points after two of four rounds:
MX1 class: 1. West Auckland’s Hamish Harwood, 122 points; 2. Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper, 106; 3. Taupo’s Wyatt Chase, 95.
MX2 class (provisional): 1. Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis, 125 points; 2. Mount Maunganui’s Josiah Natzke, 98; 3. Silverdale’s Hayden Smith, 89.
Under-19 class (provisional): 1. Otautau’s Jack Treloar, 99 points; 2. Te Aroha’s Luke Van Der Lee, 98; 3. Hamilton’s Nick Westgate, 80.
MX125 class: 1. Tauranga’s Madoc Dixon, 110 points; 2= Clevedon’s Cobie Bourke and Silverdale’s Hayden Smith, 107.
MX3 class: 1. Tauranga’s Josh Nijhuis, 75 points; 2= Hamilton’s Darryll King and Whakatane’s Darren Capill, 62.
2021 NZ Motocross Champs calendar:
Round One: January 30-31, 2021 (in conjunction with the NZMX Grand Prix at Woodville). Manawatu-Orion MCC. MX1 (& 2T Cup), MX2 (& under-19), MX125 & round one of the Women’s Cup.
Round Two: Sunday, February 21, 2021. Rotorua Motorcycle Club. MX1 (& 2T Cup), MX2 (& under-19), MX125 & MX3.
Round Three: Saturday, March 20. Pukekohe Motorcycle Club. MX1 (& 2T Cup), MX2 (& under-19), MX125 & MX3 (followed by Junior and Mini open at Pukekohe on Sunday, March 21).
Round Four: Sunday, March 28. Taupo Motorcycle Club. MX1 (& 2T Cup), MX2 (& under-19), MX125, MX3 & round two of the Women’s Cup. Prize giving is arranged for that evening.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
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