It may be a rare thing for Kiwis to cheers on Australian sportsmen, but that’s exactly what is likely to happen in Hamilton on Saturday night.
Waikato Stadium, more traditionally the home to New Zealand’s national game, rugby union, will instead be the venue for the sixth round of seven in this year’s Monster Energy Australasian Super X series.
Hundreds of plywood sheets and thousands of tons of soil will be trucked into the stadium for this sole New Zealand round of the popular indoor motocross series — this weekend’s event dubbed the New Zealand Open — with the track extremely similar to the massive American supercross circuits.
It will feature all the same Australian superstars who have raced the earlier rounds, including Australia’s two-time former AMA (United States) Supercross Champion Chad Reed.
The racing thus far has been extremely close and Reed has not dominated this series as many had expected him to.
Reed has had his work cut out with fellow Australian internationals Daniel Reardon, Jay Marmont and Tye Simmonds taking him to task.
Yamaha’s Marmont leads the open class after round five in Parramatta at the weekend but, with Kawasaki’s Reed dominating the night at Parramatta, he is now just one point behind.
Marmont won rounds one and four, while Reed has won rounds two and five. Reardon won round three.
And while the open class is the preserve of the Aussie stars, the Pro Lites (250cc) class is reserved for the best of the New Zealanders.
Entries have been slow to come in but riders such as Waitakere’s Ethan Martens, Hamilton’s Jesse Wiki (pictured above), Ngatea’s Luke Temple, Tauranga’s Peter Broxholme, Gisborne’s Matt Hunt and Rotorua’s recently-crowned national MX2 motocross champion Michael Phillips are expected to be among the frontrunners.
The open class competitors will run off in two 10-lap heats, with two eight-lap heats for the 250cc class. Positions from first to ninth in each heat will progress directly to the final, where riders placed between 10th and 20th will fight it out in a last-chance qualifier for the remaining two berths in the finals.
For the final, riders battle it out in a series of four five-lap races, with just five minutes between each race and points awarded for each race and the accumulated points totalled to find a winner.
The 250cc class will compete in a traditional 15-lap final, with no series points-scoring for this round.
Waikato Stadium promises to be a sell-out with motel accommodation in the city this weekend now almost impossible to obtain.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com