Bay of Plenty rider Ben Townley again showed his international class as he dominated round one of the New Zealand Supercross Championships near Timaru last night.
The Kawasaki ace has been on the comeback from a shoulder injury suffered in September 2007 and Wednesday’s event was only his second major outing.
But again it was a winning one.
He finished 1-3-1 in his three open class races at the Backflips Supercross facility at Pleasant Point, ending the evening with 55 points, five points more than recently-crowned national MX1 motocross champion Justin McDonald, of Christchurch.
Honda’s McDonald carded 4-1-2 results and showed he will be Townley’s main threat for the title, with three rounds remaining, the next of which is at Motueka’s Rat Track facility on Sunday.
Round three is set for Tokoroa on January 16 with the fourth and final round planned for the TelstraClear Events Centre, Manukau, on January 23.
Third best in the open class was Mount Maunganui rider Mason Phillips, who did double duty on the night, also racing his way to the top of the senior lites (250cc) standings.
Phillips (Kawasaki) was unbeaten in his three 250cc outings, finishing the evening ahead of Suzuki pair Scott Columb (Queenstown) and Brad Groombridge (Taupo).
Timaru’s Craig Smith impressed by winning the battle for ‘superpole’, the Honda rider coming out as top individual at the end of 16 two-rider shootout races.
Melbourne rider Dylan Long won the junior 250cc class, ahead of Rangiora’s Isaiah McGoldrick, who rode impressively to finish the evening just three points further back, and Wanganui’s Tom Managh was third overall.
The junior lites (85cc) class was won by Micah McGoldrick, Isaiah’s younger brother, who scored a hat-trick of wins, with Feilding’s Haki Waller runner-up and Christchurch’s Dylan Walsh taking the podium’s third step.
Motorcycling New Zealand supercross co-commissioner Neil Ritchie said it was an awesome night’s racing.
“There was a 50% increase in rider numbers and twice as many spectators turned up than were anticipated by the host club,” he said.
Ritchie said the racing was very close and all the top eight riders in each class stole a shot of the limelight.
More of the same is expected in Motueka on Sunday.
Leading standings after round one of the New Zealand Supercross Championships near Timaru on Wednesday evening:
1. Ben Townley (Tauranga) 55 points;
2. Justin McDonald (Christchurch) 50;
3. Mason Phillips (Mount Maunganui) 47.
1. Mason Phillips (Mount Maunganui) 60 points;
2. Scott Columb (Queenstown) 51;
3. Brad Groombridge (Taupo) 41.
1. Dylan Long (Australia) 57 points;
2. Isaiah McGoldrick (Rangiora) 54;
3. Tom Managh (Wanganui) 43.
1. Micah McGoldrick (Rangiora) 60 points;
2. Haki Waller (Feilding) 51;
3. Dylan Walsh (Christchurch) 45.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com