The big annual Motocross of Nations is a big deal on the world motocross calendar and perhaps few Kiwis know this better than Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper.
The 31-year-old national MX1 champion has represented New Zealand at this “Olympic Games of Motocross” more times than most of the Kiwi elite and this year it will be MXoN No.7 for Cooper as he takes a couple of long-haul flights to join his two team-mates, Tauranga’s Ben Townley and Mangakino’s Kayne Lamont, for the 2015 edition of the great race at Ernee, in north-western France on the weekend of September 26-27.
Cooper was one-third of the Kiwi squad – along with Townley and Motueka’s now-retired Josh Coppins – that finished on the podium, an astounding third overall at the MXoN at Matterley Basin, near Winchester, in England, in 2006.
Cooper’s individual race results in the open class in 2006 were 13th and 17th, but perhaps his most memorable individual MXoN performance was when the event was staged in the infield at Donington Park in England in 2008.
That was the year that he won the open class qualifying race, finishing the 25-minute (11-lap) race ahead of such notables as Peuto Rico’s Zach Osborne, Australia’s Michael Byrne and Italy’s Alex Salvini, with two-time former world champion Steve Ramon, of Belgium, rounding out the top five in that race. Team USA’s open class rider, Tim Ferry, finished that qualifying race in ninth place, crossing the line 22 seconds behind Cooper, although, interestingly, it was his American team that eventually won the MXoN that year.
In the final day races proper, Cooper finished fourth (open class/MX2) and 21st (open class/MXGP), with Team New Zealand that year finishing eighth overall.
If Cooper can be even half as good as that this time around in France, then New Zealand’s hopes will definitely take a lift.
Townley and Lamont have also previously raced for New Zealand at the MXoN and so this year’s line-up is one of the strongest to have been sent in recent years.
Unfortunately, none of these riders were available for the MXoN when it was staged in Latvia last year, where Team New Zealand failed to qualify among the top 20 countries and therefore slipped well down the world rankings.
But with generous support for this year’s campaign coming from Kiwi companies WIL Sport Management and Workshop Graphics, and with massive fundraising undertaken by the Taupo Motorcycle Club with their Battle of the Clubs motocross event adding to the coffers, the Kiwi contingent leaves for France in a confident mood.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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