The big annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville is a big occasion on the Kiwi motorcycling calendar and this year’s 56th edition of the event was no different.
It was a case of champions galore at this year’s edition of the popular stand-alone event, but, when it was all boiled down, it was Australian Dean Ferris who took the most prestigious silverware, the Yamaha rider clinching the Senior Feature Race trophy at the Honda-sponsored event for a second consecutive season.
It was remarkable when he won it on debut at Woodville last season, and perhaps no less significant this time around because he was facing a deeper and even more impressive line-up of talented individuals, many of whom were talented fellow-Australians he’d expect to face in the Australian nationals later this year.
Ferris, the 2016 Australian open class motocross champion, took his Altherm JCR Yamaha YZ450F to finish 4-1-2 in his three MX1 class outings, losing out to fellow Australian Todd Waters (Berry Sweet Honda CRF450) in that high-octane battle for MX1 class honours – Waters finishing with a 3-2-1 score-card – but Ferris again won the race that really mattered, the invitation feature race, and so the annual event’s main spoils belonged to him.
New Zealand MX1 champion Cody Cooper (Honda Racing Team CRF450), of Mount Maunganui, led from the start of the feature race, but Ferris was soon challenging for the lead and took over the front spot on lap two.
Cooper then dropped back when a slow-starting Waters powered through from fourth place to snatch the No.2 position, and this is how it remained until, the end, with another Australian visitor, Jed Beaton (Honda Racing Team CRF450), eventually pushing through to claim fourth spot and Mount Maunganui’s Rhys Carter (3Twenty3 Racing Kawasaki KX450F) rounding out the top five.
“My trip to New Zealand is all about building up for the Australian nationals and so this was a great way to start that.
“Lapped riders got in my way (while I was leading) in the final MX1 class race of the day. It was really hard to avoid them and Todd (Waters) got past me, so I had to accept second place. I’m happy with how I rode, but I always want to win and so I was disappointed with that.
“That’s not bad, though, because it was my first big race of the year. My speed is very good and I’m looking forward now to the first round of the New Zealand Motocross Championships (in Timaru) this coming weekend.”
Others to impress at Woodville were MX2 (250cc) class winner Dylan Walsh (Altherm JCR Yamaha YZ250F), the 19-year-old Christchurch rider having only just arrived back in New Zealand after two and a half years of racing in the United States.
The senior 125cc class was also a tight battle, although Mangakino Yamaha rider Maximus Purvis (CNC Redline Racing Yamaha YZ125) did enough with his 1-1-3 score-line to edge out Australian Mason Semmons (CML KTM Racing 125SX) who finished 2-2-1, and Karaka’s Kurtis Lilly (HLR Racing Team Husqvarna 125), who managed 3-3-2 results.
Another visiting Australian, Cody Dyce, was unbelievably quick for a 16-year-old. Dyce took his Serco Motorsport Yamaha YZ250F to dominate the junior 14-16 years 250cc class at Woodville on Saturday and then he backed that up by finishing fifth overall – behind Walsh, Natzke, Harwood and fellow Australian Wilson Todd (Triple B Racing Yamaha YZ250F) – in the MX2 class on Sunday.
Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team boss Josh Coppins was naturally thrilled with the weekend’s results.
“This is just what we needed with the nationals set to kick off next weekend,” he said.
“I had let the riders know that I wasn’t pleased with our efforts at the Whakatane Summercross (just after Christmas) and this today was their response.
“We are feeling very positive heading towards (the first round of the nationals now at) Timaru next weekend.”
Meanwhile, New Plymouth’s Mitch Rowe (KTM) survived a war of attrition to win the two-race River Race segment of the Woodville programme.
With 1-4 results, Rowe was able to edge out Eketahuna’s Charlie Richardson (Husqvarna) for the overall victory. Water-proofing of the bikes is crucial for competitors in this novelty race and, perhaps like never before, the part-land and part-river course was this year littered with numerous flooded machines at the end of both races.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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Leading results from the 56th annual Honda-sponsored New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville at the weekend:
Woodville Feature Race: 1. Dean Ferris (Australia, Yamaha); 2. Todd Waters (Australia, Honda); 3. Cody Cooper (Mount Maunganui, Honda); 4. Jed Beaton (Australia, Honda); 5. Rhys Carter (Mount Maunganui, Kawasaki).
Roddy Shirriffs Memorial (under-21 years): Maximus Purvis (Mangakino, Yamaha).
MX1 class: 1. Todd Waters (Australia, Honda) 67 points; 2. Dean Ferris (Australia, Yamaha) 65; 3. Cody Cooper (Mount Maunganui, Honda) 56.
MX2 class: 1. Dylan Walsh (Christchurch, Yamaha) 66 points; 2. Josiah Natzke (Hamilton, KTM) 65; 3. Hamish Harwood (Takapuna, KTM) 63.
National 125cc class: 1. Maximus Purvis (Mangakino, Yamaha) 70 points; 2. Mason Semmons (Australia, KTM) 69; 3. Kurtis Lilly (Karaka, Husqvarna) 62.
Veterans: 1. Cam Negus (Rotorua, Yamaha) 75 points (maximum); 2. Mitch Rowe (New Plymouth, KTM) 64; 3. Dean Baird (Christchurch, KTM) 62.
River Race: 1. Mitch Rowe (New Plymouth, KTM) 43 points; 2. Charlie Richardson (Eketahuna, Husqvarna) 38; 3. Steve Sargeant (Waipukurau, KTM) 38.
Junior 125/250 Champion of champions: Trent Collins (Cambridge, Honda).
Junior 85cc Champion of champions: Brodie Connolly (Matamata, KTM).
14-16 years 250cc class: 1. Cody Dyce (Australia, Yamaha) 75 points (maximum); 2. Trent Collins (Cambridge, Honda) 66; 3. Mason Semmons (Australia, KTM) 60.
15-16 years 125cc class: 1. Riley Campbell (Bulls, KTM) 65 points; 2. Hayden Smith (Taihape, KTM) 63; 3. Jacob Beal (Napier, Yamaha) 62.
12-14 years 125cc class: 1. Grason Veitch (Dunedin, KTM) 75 points (maximum); 2. Marshall Phillips (Christchurch, Yamaha) 62; 3. Isaac Broad (Ngatea, KTM) 54.
13-16 years 85cc class: 1. Brodie Connolly (Matamata, KTM) 72 points; 2. Thomas Watts (Wairoa, Kawasaki) 69; 3. Toby Winiata (Rongotea, Husqvarna) 58.
11-12 years 85cc class: 1. Noah Smerdon (Australia, KTM) 72 points; 2. Madoc Dixon (Tauranga, KTM) 62; 3. Cobie Bourke (Christchurch, KTM) 59.
8-10 years 85cc class: 1. Kobe Thoms (Christchurch, KTM) 75 points (maximum); 2. Ryan Tangaroa (Tuakau, Kawasaki) 64; 3. Cole Davies (Waitoki, KTM) 55.
Full story and more photos in your next issue of KIWI RIDER magazine.
Check back here on www.BikesportNZ.com during this week as we bring you more words and photos from the weekend.