The Bay of Plenty is fast becoming a hotbed for New Zealand motocross.
Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper won more MX1 races than any other rider at this year’s Demon Energy New Zealand Motocross Championships and, clearly at home on the MotoGB Suzuki RM-Z450, he’s just signed his name to remain and race for the team throughout 2010 as well.
This comes at the same time that Mount Maunganui Suzuki dealership MotoGB has been elevated to become the Suzuki company’s flagship in New Zealand.
Cooper has raced several bike brands over the years but it was with a privateer Suzuki team in 2008 that he tasted his greatest international success, finishing fifth on his debut season in the national championships in the United States.
He returned to race in New Zealand this year and jumped at the chance to get back on another RM-Z450, this time riding under the wing of the progressive MotoGB outfit.
“I had so much fun on the bike this year,” said Cooper. “And the boys at MotoGB were absolutely fantastic. They were so professional and nothing was too much trouble.”
The slick and professional nature of the MotoGB dealership has also been rewarded by Suzuki New Zealand, with the Bay of Plenty company taking over responsibilities as the official Suzuki team.
MotoGB has collected the team truck from successful Hawera dealer Action Suzuki, which is headed by multi New Zealand champion Daryl Hurley, and will assume responsibilities for running the race team.
It frees Hurley to concentrate on the twin tasks of racing and running his high-performing south Taranaki bike shop.
Meanwhile, MotoGB co-owners Mike Fisher and Andrew Hardisty welcome the fresh challenge.
“It’s an honour to run the official race team truck,” said Hardisty. “It will be a four-rider team. We will have Cody (Cooper) and Taupo’s Brad Groombridge campaigning the MX1 bikes and Queenstown’s Scott Columb and Mount Maunganui’s Davi Fisher on the RM-Z250 (MX2) machines.
“Daryl (Hurley) has done a fantastic job setting this team up and of course we are excited to have secured a rider of Cody’s calibre. Scott’s an international-class rider too and our younger riders, Brad and Davi, give us a solid platform to build on.
“I think it’s the ultimate team … safe bets and dark horses too,” said Hardisty.
Even with MotoGB’s new status, Hardisty said the sport’s grass roots would not be forgotten.
“In fact, there are lots of benefits to be gained by all Suzuki riders. All the technical information gathered by out Speed Shop division, launched six months ago, is passed on to all our customers. Speed Shop stands for suspension, performance, engine, engineering and development.
“We will be making all Speed Shop performance information available to all of our customers. Customers are an extended part of the team.”
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com