The second half of the New Zealand Motocross Championships season gets underway in the Manawatu this weekend with the points finely balanced in all the classes.
After two of four rounds thus far, MX1 class defending champion Cody Cooper and MX2 (250cc) class defending champion Hamish Harwood have each shown they’re up for the fight, both men building solid foundations on which they might now push on to retain their respective crowns.
Round three at Himatangi, near Palmerston North, on Sunday will provide a very different surface for the riders to cope with, the sandy Flipp’s Motocross Park circuit at Himatangi both unpredictable and energy-sapping, treacherous features that could force mistakes and allow title challengers to gain traction and make up ground.
Mount Maunganui’s Cooper won the day at the series opener at Timaru in February and also stood top of the MX1 class podium at round two near Rotorua two weeks later and he now enjoys a 13-point advantage over the man who was runner-up last season, Australian Dean Ferris.
But 13 points is nothing in the big scheme of things and, with Ferris a master of the sand, perhaps fans can expect that points buffer to shrink on Sunday.
Ferris had a frustrating time at a muddy Rotorua, dropping his bike several times during the course of the day, costing him valuable places in the process, and he now has fellow Australian Todd Waters hot on his tail, albeit another 11 points further back.
Walsh was also guilty of dropping his bike a few times too many at Rotorua and this caused him to lose a lot of ground on Harwood.
Waitakere’s Ethan Martens, Australian Kaleb Barham and Te Puke’s Logan Blackburn are respectively third, fourth and fifth in the standings and there is just a handful of points to separate them, meaning any gains or losses at Himatangi on Sunday will be significant in regards to their campaigns.
After this weekend, the Mazda and DRD magazine-sponsored series heads to Taupo for the fourth and final round on Saturday, March 25.
Leading overall standings after round two:
MX1 class: 1. Cody Cooper (Mount Maunganui, Honda) 139 points; 2. Dean Ferris (Australia, Yamaha) 126; 3. Todd Waters (Australia, Honda) 115; 4. Rhys Carter (Mount Maunganui, Kawasaki) 108; 5. Luke Styke (Australia, KTM) 105.
MX2 class: 1. Hamish Harwood (Takapuna, KTM) 142 points; 2. Dylan Walsh (Christchurch, Yamaha) 122; 3. Ethan Martens (Waitakere, Yamaha) 106; 4. Kaleb Barham (Australia, Husqvarna) 97; 5. Logan Blackburn (Te Puke, KTM) 89.
125cc class: 1= Hayden Smith (Taihape, KTM) and Kurtis Lilly (Karaka, Husqvarna) both with 141 points; 3. Hayden Wilkinson (Nelson, Yamaha) 100; 4. Jordan Milsom (Te Puke, Husqvarna) 90; 5. Dan Bell (Levin, KTM) 87.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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