The latest trans-Tasman sporting battle was a real see-saw affair but, in the end, the visiting Australians seemed to have all the heavyweights where it counted.
At the conclusion to a thrilling day-long battle for motocross supremacy at Harrisville, just outside Pukekohe, on Sunday, New Zealand was eventually edged out by just 18 points in the Oceania Motocross Championships.
Riders were scored one point for a win and two for second place, and so forth, so it was the team with the fewest points that would win the day, Australia eventually scoring 159 points to team New Zealand’s 177.
But it could so easily have gone the other way with New Zealand 125cc class rider John Phillips (Honda), of Rotorua, finishing 3-1 in his two outings and only missing out on winning the class by one point from his namesake, Tasmania’s Mathew Phillips (Honda).
New Zealand’s Micah McGoldrick (KTM) (pictured above) was by far the best-performed of the Kiwis, winning both his 85cc class races, leading fellow Kiwi team rider Courtney Duncan (Yamaha), of Otago, to the top step of the podium in that division. Duncan was actually second equal in the class as she shared the position with 13-year-old Queensland rider Joel Dinsdale (Yamaha).
Duncan finished 2-3 and Dinsdale was 3-2 in the two outings.
McGoldrick, the national junior motocross and supercross champion in his age group, said his weekend “all came down to getting good starts”.
“I tried to concentrate on what I was doing. I wasn’t at all concerned about what was happening behind me.”
Though McGoldrick dominated his class, New Zealand had few answers to the superiority of the Australians in the third Oceania Championship class, for 65cc riders.
Australian riders Jordan Hill and Hunter Lawrence finished 1-2 respectively in both 65cc races with Hamilton’s Josiah Natzke (KTM) taking third spot. Natzke was the only Kiwi to feature among the top five in this class.
Australian team manager Mark Willingham said his “85cc riders really stepped up and the 125cc riders did the same”.
“Our 65cc class riders were awesome. At age seven these riders go straight onto the senior tracks in Australia and I think that was the difference in our riders today. Our boys were used to these conditions.
“By the time our 65cc riders arrived in New Zealand, they already had several years of experience dealing with the big ruts created by the larger bikes.”
New Zealand team manager Bryan Davidson, of Marton, agreed it was the experience of the 65cc riders that spelled the difference.
“It was encouraging to see how close the two teams were but, in the end, their 65cc riders were of a much greater calibre. We need to get our 65cc riders onto the big tracks sooner. That was the great lesson for us from the weekend.”
As a sub plot to the day’s action, the event doubled as the Auckland Motocross Championships and Hamilton’s Darryll King was the hero of the day, the Subway Yamaha rider beating Kiwi international Mason Phillips (Kawasaki, Mount Maunganui) and national MX1 champion Justin McDonald (Honda, Christchurch) to the MX1 class title and also finishing a close runner-up to national MX2 champion Michael Phillips (Honda), of Rotorua, in the MX2 class.
King’s younger brother Damien King (Yamaha), of Cambridge, was unbeaten in winning the 125cc class.
Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
Full story and more photos in your next issue of KIWI RIDER magazine.