It is the first national championships campaign for the new Workshop Graphics Husqvarna Factory Racing Team and already the champagne corks are popping.
Team riders Hadleigh Knight and Kurtis Lilly both ended up on the podium when the engines were shut off after racing at the opening round of the New Zealand Motocross Championships near Timaru on Sunday.
With his finishing first and second in the opening races of the day, Reporoa’s Knight had been leading the MX2 (250cc) class by two points from Takaka’s Hamish Harwood (CML KTM) as the riders lined up for the third and deciding race.
However, while visiting Australian rider Jed Beaton won that final race, Harwood managed to snatch the runner-up spot and, unfortunately for Knight, this was enough for the South Islander to snatch away the bragging rights and the top step of the podium.
With Knight finishing back in seventh in that third race, he had to settle for overall runner-up, albeit just six points behind Harwood.
With three rounds (nine races) remaining in the championship, there’s plenty of opportunity for Knight to strike back and his confidence is on a high after his solid first-round performance.
His team-mate Lilly, from Karaka, also had reason to smile, his 3-4-3 score-card in the 125cc class good enough for him to claim the No.2 spot on that podium, finishing just 14 points behind the day’s winner, Ngatea’s Ben Broad (KTM).
Workshop Graphics Husqvarna Factory Racing Team manager Howard Lilly was naturally thrilled with the weekend’s results.
“The campaign has started just how we wanted it to and they have both positioned themselves well for the remaining championship rounds.
“I was absolutely stoked to see Hadleigh leading and winning the first MX2 race.
“Hadleigh and Kurtis have been training together a lot lately and that seems to be working well for them.
“If we can be consistent from here, then anything is possible for the championship.”
Meanwhile, the MX1 class winner on Sunday was Australian Dean Ferris (Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team YZ450F), who won the day ahead of defending national MX1 champion Cody Cooper (Honda Racing Team CRF450), of Mount Maunganui, and fellow Australian Todd Waters (MC2 Racing Suzuki RM-Z450).
The series now heads to the Manawatu on February 28, with round three to follow at the Rotorua Motorcycle Club’s track on March 13. The championship trophies get handed out at the Taupo finale on March 20.
Leading championship standings after the first of four rounds of the New Zealand Motocross Championships near Timaru on Sunday:
MX1 class: 1. Dean Ferris (Australia, Yamaha); 2. Cody Cooper (Mount Maunganui, Honda); 3. Todd Waters (Australia, Suzuki); 4. Scott Columb (Queenstown, Kawasaki); 5. Hamish Harwood (Takaka, KTM).
MX2 class: 1. Hamish Harwood (Takaka, KTM); 2. Hadleigh Knight (Reporoa, Husqvarna); 3. Jed Beaton (Australia, Yamaha); 4. Kayne Lamont (Mangakino, Yamaha); 5. Micah McGoldrick (Rangiora, Honda).
125cc class: 1. Ben Broad (Ngatea, KTM); 2. Kurtis Lilly (Karaka, Husqvarna); 3. Wyatt Chase (Taupo, Yamaha); 4. Tony Cvitanovich (Feilding, KTM); 5. Reece Lister (Kotemaori, KTM).
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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