One team, two riders and two titles claimed – that’s a distinct possibility as the new HLR Husqvarna Team this week announced its two-pronged attack for the season ahead.
The official New Zealand Husqvarna motocross team has been re-shaped, re-branded, re-powered and re-invigorated for the coming Kiwi summer, with Karaka’s Kurtis Lilly and Reporoa’s Hadleigh Knight poised to represent the brand at the four-round New Zealand Motocross Championships, starting near Timaru in February, and at other major events across the country.
The 21-year-old Lilly will race a Husqvarna TC125 in the National 125cc class this season, hoping to improve upon the No.5 ranking he achieved on debut in the class in 2015 and the No.4 ranking he achieved in the 2016 nationals earlier this year, while 19-year-old Knight will race one of the 2017-model two-stroke Husqvarna TC250 bikes in the MX2 (250cc) class at the nationals.
Knight finished ninth overall in the MX2 class in the 2016 nationals, despite racing only three of the four rounds because of injury. He finished No.5 in the MX2 class in 2015 and No.2 in the 125cc class in 2014.
With experienced campaigner Howard Lilly at the helm of the team, there is no reason to doubt that two podium finishes are a realistic prospects.
“We are very excited about the season ahead,” said team owner Howard Lilly, a former New Zealand Motocross of Nations team manager and the boss of what was formerly the Workshop Graphics Husqvarna Racing Team last season.
“We have retained all of last season’s sponsors and now also have John Appel of Advance Physiotherapy joining us, as well as Northern Accessories and Ebbett Pukekohe, who have provided the team with a new Holden Colorado for transportation.
“We have a very strong team, certainly one that offers a good chance of winning two national titles. We have put our two riders into two separate classes so that we can increase our profile across the board,” said Lilly.
“We also offer an invitation for young riders to join us on Junior Ride Days at major events around the country.
“We encourage young riders of Husqvarna bikes to come under our marquee during the junior segment of such major events as the Auckland Motocross Championships, the Summercross at Whakatane and the New Zealand Motocross GP at Woodville. If riders are interested they should indicate by contacting me via email, at email@example.com and we’ll take it from there.”
The HLR Husqvarna team will also have a presence overseas in 2017.
“Because the team has also joined the Dirt Guide family, incorporating the use by our riders of Arai helmets and Oakley Prizm Airbrake goggles for the 2017 season, it has led to an exciting opportunity for Hadleigh (Knight) to compete with KTM in Japan in October.
He will race the final round of the JMX on the Sugo MX track on October
The JMX is Japan’s premier motocross competition and the last round is generating great excitement as the championship closes.
Northern Accessories manager Steven Croad said he was thrilled to be able to facilitate the opportunity.
“This is a significant opportunity for Hadleigh, as this international competition is renowned for being very tough and close with some very special factory bikes in the race. However, his sheer speed and ability are expected to deliver the results he deserves,” said Croad.
The HLR Husqvarna Team is supported by Husqvarna New Zealand, www.Workshopgraphics.co.nz, Northern Accessories, Arai helmets, Oakley Prizm goggles, Nationwide Accessories, Advance Physiotherapy, Level Ltd, Dr Trim Ltd, Shift, Motorex, BikesportNZ, Kiwi Rider magazine, Ebbett Pukekohe, Motomuck, Pirelli, EBC brakes and Fox NZ.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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