It looks like it’s going to be a cracker of a season for New Zealand’s elite motocross racers.
The Demon New Zealand Motocross Championships kick off just outside Timaru this weekend and, judging by results in recent warm-up events around the country, it’s going to be tight in all the classes.
Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper heads the Power Balance BikesportNZ.com Suzuki line-up and he will race the awesome Suzuki RM-Z450 in the MX1 class. McCoy will join Kiwi international Kayne Lamont in the MX2 class, the pair of them racing the Suzuki RM-Z250 machines, while Wanganui’s Tom Managh is charged with 125cc and under-21 class duties, campaigning the two-stroke RM125.
Mangakino’s Lamont had been due to head overseas this month but delays with the processing of his visa means he will fully utilise his time at home by using the New Zealand Motocross Championships series to continue his preparations to tackle the British Motocross Championships later in the year.
In addition to the four-rider Power Balance team line-up, Mount Maunganui’s Rhys Carter also comes under the Suzuki umbrella for the first time this season, racing for the MotoGB Suzuki team. He will also ride a Suzuki RM-Z250 in the MX2 class.
In the weekend just gone, Cooper, Carter, and Managh each tasted success, racing at the stand-alone Valley Motocross Championships at Patetonga, near Morrinsville.
Cooper was untouchable in the MX1 class, winning all three races ahead of Rotorua’s national MX2 champion Michael Phillips (Honda Hamilton CRF450).
“It was certainly a fantastic performance,” said Power Balance MotoGB Suzuki team manager Andrew Hardisty, of Mount Maunganui.
“Cody was simply dominant in MX1 and if he can go out and dominate like that it certainly puts his mind into a very strong place ahead of the nationals.
“Of course it’s great to welcome Daniel (McCoy) on board from Australia too. Actually, what is interesting is that Australian Suzuki team manager Jay Foreman will also be coming over here, so it’s like we will actually be Team Suzuki Australasia.
“With all the recent flooding in Queensland, Daniel hasn’t been able to do much riding. This trip will be great for Cody and Daniel to prepare themselves ahead of the Australian nationals later in the year.
“Everything is now in place for us for Timaru this weekend and all we need is a good day’s riding to show what we can do. It’s a very solid team; with a nice mix of youth and experience. I expect them to do well.”
Meanwhile, Waikato brothers Darryll and Damien King seem as inseparable on the race track as much as they are off it.
The two men, key members of the high-profile MXDK Rockstar Yamaha motocross team, were keen to push each other along as build-up continued ahead of racing at Timaru this weekend.
Racing in the hotly-contested MX2 class at the weekend, the two brothers quickly make it a Yamaha 1-2 as they snatched the top two steps of the podium. New Suzuki signing Carter took the third podium position.
Carter, in his first race in six months since being sidelined with shoulder injury, was thrilled to end the day on the podium in the MX2 class, finishing 5-2-3.
“It was a last-minute decision to head to Patetonga,” said MXDK Rockstar Yamaha Team boss Darryll King who dominated the day nonetheless with a suburb hat-trick of wins.
“But we decided it was a good chance to have a last shake-down before racing at Timaru, a chance for the team to iron out any last wrinkles.
“Damien is still recovering from the injury he sustained just after Christmas but it was a good work-out for him and he came through with flying colours.
“He is very nearly back to the top of his game.”
Damien King won’t defend his national 125cc championship crown this season, leaving that instead for last year’s runner-up, fellow MXDK Rockstar Yamaha team rider Ethan Martens, as he moves to the MX2 class.
Damien King will race the Yamaha YZ250F four-stroke at the nationals and, after his runner-up finish to elder brother Darryll at the weekend, he should rate as one of the title favourites.
Of course he’ll have to again contend with his elder brother, Darryll King deciding this week that he will indeed race the nationals, on the two-stroke YZ250 machine.
Darryll King also won the MX2 class at the 50th annual Woodville Motocross just over two weeks ago and that clearly makes him one of the title favourites.
In the 125cc class, it was a battle for glory between Waitakare’s Shaun Fogarty (KTM), Wanganui’s Managh and fellow Suzuki riders Dion Picard and Josh Jack. Fogarty won the day, scoring an impressive hat-trick of wins, with Picard, Managh and Jack claiming the next three spots.
Fogarty also finished third overall in the MX1 class, eight points behind Phillips and four points ahead of MXDK Rockstar Yamaha rider Hayden Clark, of Hamilton.
Motueka’s Josh Coppins did not race at Patetonga at the weekend but he will be with the MXDK Rockstar Yamaha boys this coming weekend in Timaru. He is the only rider entered who has a current world ranking and should rate as the favourite for MX1 honours.
After Timaru, the national series heads to Patetonga for round two the following weekend (February 27), with round three near Rotorua on March 20 and the fourth and final round near New Plymouth on March 27.
Be in to win free tickets from www.DemonEnergy.co.nz
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com