The competition could again be seeing red this summer.
The new-look Honda Racing Team will be the one to beat when the 2016 New Zealand Motocross Championships kick off in the South Island in February and results at some of the lesser build-up races over the next couple of months should confirm that.
Boasting five extremely talented riders this season, the Honda Racing Team again presents itself as one of the top outfits in the national motocross paddock.
Managed by Te Awamutu businessman Phil Empson, The Honda Racing Team will again line up with the big No.1 emblazoned on its Honda CRF450 MX1 class machine, Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper aiming to repeat the successful title defence he celebrated last season.
Content that Cooper has a handle on the situation, the only difference for the Honda racing Team this time around is that he will be the sole MX1 class entrant for the 2016 season as Honda piles on the pressure in the MX2 (250cc) class with four riders in the mix.
New signing Logan Blackburn, from Te Puke, joined the red brigade in the off-season and he will line up on the new Honda CRF250 in the MX2 class alongside team-mates Aaron Wiltshier, of Tauranga, Trent Collins, of Cambridge, and Te Awamutu’s Jacob Steel.
Collins is the national junior No.2, having earned that ranking after a thrilling ride at the 2015 nationals near Te Kuiti in April.
All of these young men are capable of delivering a podium finish this season and that is certainly in Empson’s plans.
“We managed to finish one and three in the MX1 class last year (with Cooper and Rotorua’s John Phillips hogging the podium for Honda) and I believe we have the ability to do the same, or perhaps celebrate even greater success, in the MX2 class too.
“Cody (Cooper) is our ‘lone ranger’ in the MX1 class and he’s okay with that, but it’s really one big family and he has a role to play in our combined success as a team too. The riders will all train together and energise one another. They will all support one another,” said Empson.
“The synergy with the team is great because they all live within about 100 kilometres of one another. All the riders and the team as a whole has great support from the riders’ families. They want to be involved and we encourage that involvement.”
The Honda Racing Team is supported by Blue Wing Honda, Motul, Dr Trim, Pirelli, NDub Designs, DRC, Zeta, Alpinestars, 100% goggle, Bell helmets, Yoshimura, Twin Air, Talon, Renthal, Supersprox, Hinson Clutch, Raceengines.com, Tsubaki chains, EBC Brakes, Diesel Mechanical, Picton Auto Electrical, Vortex ignition and EZE products.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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