Motueka’s Josh Coppins may be the man on top in the chase for national motocross championship glory but he cannot afford to relax as the series resumes near Rotorua this weekend.
Coppins leads the MX1 (open class) by just six points from Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper at the halfway stage in the Demon Energy New Zealand Motocross Championships, with Rotorua’s Michael Phillips very close behind.
The national series reaches the third round of four on hilly farmland just outside Rotorua on Sunday and Yamaha’s Coppins could be a worried man with some very high-powered individuals threatening him, not least of all Cooper, local hero Phillips (Honda) — who is actually the reigning MX2 champion — and Christchurch’s defending champion Justin McDonald (Honda).
Nearest rival Cooper could be considered “the man of the moment” after his scintillating performance at round one of the parallel Australian Motocross Championships in Victoria on Sunday.
Suzuki’s Cooper finished runner-up in Victoria, while fellow Kiwi Coppins had a nightmare afternoon and finished the weekend only seventh overall.
Coupled with the knowledge that Cooper is hot at the moment is the fact is that Cooper also won the previous round of the New Zealand series at Patetonga, just outside Morrinsville, a fortnight ago.
Momentum surely favours Cooper in Rotorua this weekend, although Coppins has been in many tight spots before and his 15 years on the world championship circuit will surely give him an added advantage.
The battle for MX2 (250cc) glory is also tough to predict with virtually nothing to separate round one winner Cody Mackie (Honda), of Australia, from round two winner Darryll King (Yamaha), of Hamilton.
Another Australian, Suzuki rider Daniel McCoy, Masterton’s Luke Burkhart (KTM) and Tauranga’s Peter Broxholme (Honda) are also likely to feature again this weekend, these experienced international-calibre riders making this class one of the most fiercely-fought in the competition.
Taupo MX2 trio Brad Groombridge (Suzuki), Nick Saunders (Kawasaki) and Cameron Dillon (Honda) will be keen to turn their luck around on home turf this weekend too.
In the 125cc class it has almost been a one-horse race with Waitakere youngster Ethan Martens (Yamaha) winning five of the six 125cc races thus far.
However, Waitakere’s Shaun Fogarty (KTM), Tauranga’s Scott Barr-Smith (KTM), Rotorua’s Cam Negus (Yamaha) and Suzuki trio Tom Managh, of Wanganui, Josh Jack, of Kaukapakapa, and Atiamuri’s Dion Picard all have the will and the ability to change all that.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com