Waikato teenager Josiah Natzke has blasted his way onto the podium in his latest outing in Europe, perhaps signalling a late-season surge as he builds now towards representing New Zealand in the MX2 class at the Motocross of Nations in Italy next month.
The Hamilton rider finished a remarkable runner-up in the European 125c Championships (EMX125) last season and had this year looked to build on that with another solid season in Europe, tackling the next step up in the competition ladder, racing the European 250cc (EMX250) class.
And while there may not have been too much to write home about in the early part of his 2016, Natzke made a breakthrough at the weekend by earning himself a podium spot at the Swiss Grand Prix, the 10th and final round of the EMX250 series.
The KTM rider finished 2-3 in Switzerland to finish overall runner-up in the EMX250 class, his best result of the season as he ended the weekend just ahead of the rider who had won the previous two rounds of the EMX250 championship, Team Suzuki World MX2’s Bas Vaessen.
It was enough to see Natzke rocket up the standings to finish the series 13th overall and with a creditable season tally of 106 points.
Danish rider Thomas Kjer Olsen (Husqvarna) won the title with 404 points, while American Kawasaki rider Darian Sanayei (373 points) finished runner-up and Dutch rider Vaessen (324 points) settled for third.
“As for where I ended up in the standings, I don’t really care about that,” said the 17-year-old Natzke.
“I never looked once (at the points) this year because there was no way I was going to win. I was only focused on each race.
“I don’t really know what was different (from last year). What I did this weekend has always been there. I’ve just been through some new challenges this year and I didn’t know how to deal with it and know what could help.
“Nothing anyone said helped. It was just a flick of a switch in my head and I kept my head down when things were tough and got through and now I’m reaping the rewards.”
In a month’s time he will join fellow Kiwis Cody Cooper and Hamish Harwood to fly the Silver Fern flag at the Motocross of Nations at Maggiora, north-west of Milan.
Cooper and Harwood have both previously raced at this “Olympic Games of Motocross”, but it will be an eye-opening debut appearance at the event for Natzke.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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