It is never easy picking winners two months before a competition begins, but there are plenty of individuals who are likely to challenge when the 2015 JT Racing New Zealand Motocross Championships kick off in February.
All bets are off for the JT Racing-sponsored four-round nationals, set to kick off at the Barrett Road Motorcycle Park, on the outskirts of New Plymouth, on February 8.
The riders then pack up their belongings and head south to The Dirt Farm at Pleasant point, near Timaru, for round two on February 22. Round three hits Rotorua on March 8 and the series then wraps up at the fourth and final round at Harrisville, near Pukekohe, on March 15.
The defending champions are perhaps the favourites to reclaim their respective trophies in the MX1 and MX2 (250cc) categories, but the National 125cc class will be wide open as last year’s champion, Hamilton teenager Josiah Natzke, steps up to tackle the MX2 division.
Otago’s Courtney Duncan looms as likely new winner in the 125cc class, with her recent form at the MX Fest at Taupo in October and then her dominant display at the Auckland Motocross Championships in early December signalling very clear intentions.
The Kiwi international has been in a class all her own lately, but she will need to have respect for riders such as Onewhero’s Jayden Turnwald, Hawera’s Nick Hornby, Auckland’s Claude Griffith, Ngatea’s Ben Broad and Pukekohe’s Kurtis Lilly, to name a few.
Mount Maunganui’s national MX1 champion Cody Cooper continues to make his comeback from injury and, by the start of February, will no doubt be back to top form and ready for his title defence.
However, he should be wary indeed of the recent hot form of Taupo’s national MX1 No.3 Brad Groombridge, winner of the MX1 class at MX Fest and at Auckland as well.
Both Cooper and Groombridge will have a huge fight on their hands too, with riders such as Queenstown’s Scott Columb, Rotorua’s John Phillips, Mount Maunganui’s Rhys Carter and Waitakere’s Ethan Martens all expected to threaten.
Waikato’s multi-time former national champion and former Grand Prix rider Darryll King remains a contender and visiting Australian superstars Kirk Gibbs and Luke Styke add an international flavour to the MX1 class.
Mangakino’s national MX2 class champion Kayne Lamont was impressive on his recent comeback from injury, winning the MX2 class at Auckland, and he’ll be keen to sharpen his skills with a successful title defence before he heads to the United Kingdom for a British Motocross Championships campaign in 2015.
Australians Jay Wilson and Caleb Ward cross the Tasman to keep him honest, although Natzke will perhaps be Lamont’s biggest threat. Natzke will embark on a European motocross campaign immediately after the nationals.
British visitor Rob Holyoake, Te Puke’s Logan Blackburn, Dunedin’s Campbell King, Atiamuri’s Hadleigh Knight, Mangakino’s Cam Dillon, Hamilton’s Jesse Wiki, Rotorua’s Scotty Canham, Taupo’s Cohen Chase and Oamaru’s Joel Meikle should all feature near the front too.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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