Suzuki’s Cody Cooper has done it again, only this time he took his Moto City team-mate along for the ride.
Cooper made it back-to-back wins at the popular Tarawera 100 cross-country dirt bike endurance race near Kawerau on Saturday, a virtual repeat of his start-to-finish win at the event last season, with fellow Bay of Plenty man Rhys Carter following closely behind to make it a Suzuki 1-2 at the iconic race.
For Mount Maunganui’s Cooper (Suzuki RM-Z450), the win seemed to come with the minimum amount of fuss.
The Kiwi international took over the lead on the opening lap of the Bay Honda-sponsored event and, just over four hours later, he had stretched his advantage to four minutes and 17 seconds over fellow Moto City Suzuki rider Carter.
The Suzuki 1-2 was quite unexpected with Opotiki’s Carter taking the No.2 spot on a 250cc Suzuki RM-Z250, humbling many riders on more powerful 450cc bikes.
Third best was yet another Bay of Plenty rider, Tauranga’s Reece Burgess (Husaberg FE450), with Hamilton’s Darryll King (Yamaha YZ250) and Mokau’s Adrian Smith (YZ250F) filling out the top five.
“It was harder than last year,” said Cooper afterwards. “They had used virtually the same track this year and, although the organisers had run a bulldozer blade over some of it, it was still very rough.”
In the fight for class honours, however, Cooper and Carter were both winners, Cooper taking the over-300cc four-stroke section ahead of Burgess and Tauranga’s Peter Broxholme (Honda), and Carter winning the under-300cc four-stroke class ahead of Smith and Te Awamutu’s Mark Penny, who was on an identical Suzuki RM-Z250.
“It wasn’t easy,” said Carter. “I hit a fence strainer post soon after the start and came off the bike. I crashed again before we headed into the forest for the first time. I was back in about 30th position.”
For Carter to battle back and achieve runner-up at the end speaks volumes for his talent and tenacity.
Meanwhile, it was a Yamaha 1-2-3 in the battle for over-200cc two-stroke honours with MXDK Rockstar Yamaha team boss King winning ahead of fellow YZ250 riders Cam Negus, of Rotorua, and Tokoroa’s Trevor Wilson.
“I took the holeshot but I couldn’t match Cody in the horsepower stakes and he got by me during the first lap,” said King.
Perhaps it was the one that got away for former Tarawera 100 winner King.
King had looked comfortable in the lead and still looked a threat to Cooper later in the race, until he experienced a slight malfunction with his front suspension, the screw cap on top of one of his forks unthreading and working free.
“I was forced to back off and take it easy. I thought we might be able to make a switch and replace the front forks during the next pit stop but we decided against it in the end and just pushed on until the finish.
“Okay, I couldn’t win the race overall but it was still nice to win the over-200cc two-stroke class.”
The under-200cc two-stroke class was won by Tauranga’s Scott Barr-Smith (KTM), followed by Whakatane’s Mark Mexted (Honda) and Tokoroa’s Tony McLaren (Yamaha).
Auckland’s Julie Greenslade (Gas Gas) won the women’s class, while Whakatane’s Darren Capill (Honda) and Taupo’s Darryl August (Suzuki) won the over-40 years’ and over-50 years’ veterans’ classes respectively.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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