The trash talking stops when the start gate drops.
Never a truer word has been spoken and particularly so with the New Zealand Motocross Championships now just days away.
Warm-up events around the country have ensured that preparations are now complete for the start of the four-round nationals series, set to kick off at the Backflips Dirt Farm at Pleasant Point, just outside Timaru, on Sunday, and all that had preceded this weekend is for bragging rights only.
Rounds will follow at the Flipp’s track at Himatangi, near Palmerston North, on February 28 and at the Rotorua Motorcycle Club’s track on March 13, but there’s a lot that will happen before any trophies get handed out at the Taupo finale on March 20.
With the New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville last weekend an ideal litmus test, indications are that Mount Maunganui’s national MX1 champion Cody Cooper may have a hard time of it to defend his title against the two Australians who have made the tip this season, Dean Ferris and Todd Waters, while Argentine rider Joaquin Fernandez is perhaps also capable of springing a surprise.
That’s not to say that Kiwi internationals such as Queenstown’s Scott Columb, Taupo’s Brad Groombridge, Mount Maunganui’s Rhys Carter, Rotorua’s Scotty Canham and Takaka’s Hamish Harwood won’t be a key part of the equation.
The MX2 (250cc) class is bulging with talent too, Harwood’s name again popping up, this man a rare dual-class ironman, with Reporoa’s Hadleigh Knight, Taupo’s Cohen Chase, Te Puke’s Logan Blackburn, Mangakino’s Kayne Lamont, Cambridge’s Trent Collins and Nelson’s Reece Walker among those most likely to feature.
Otago’s Courtney Duncan shook up the MX2 class at Woodville and she was entered for Timaru as well, but a decision has since been made for her to withdraw as she looks to having bigger fish to fry when she heads away shortly to race in Qatar.
There are three Australian riders entered in the MX2 class – Jed Beaton, Joel Wightman and Jayden Conforto – and, although Beaton and Wightman are first-timers here, they will not be overawed.
Natzke won’t be defending his national 125cc class crown, with the MX2 class and international duties taking priority this season, but the fighting in this class remains intense with Ngatea’s national No.3 Ben Broad and Karaka’s national No.5 Kurtis Lilly expected to be severely tested by individuals such as Taupo’s Wyatt Chase, Feilding’s Tony Cvitanovich and Te Aroha’s Aaron Manning, to name a few.
The forecast for the weekend is for blistering sun, a perfect match for the red-hot racing that’s promised.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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