New Zealand’s chances looked to be remote, at best, but a huge fight-back on day two of the big annual Honda New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville turned it all around.
The popular annual stand-alone event was accorded FIM Oceania status this year, meaning that points scored by Australian competitors and their Kiwi opposite numbers were counted towards the battle-within-a-battle for FIM Oceania Challenge honours, giving added significance to every results.
The Australian contingent had the advantage – leading by 410 points to 368 – after the junior phase of racing on Saturday, but the senior Kiwis came on strong on Sunday and rescued the situation.
New Zealand eventually won the FIM Oceania Challenge 886 points to 829, with Auckland rider Hamish Harwood the main Kiwi aggressor.
Harwood, from Royal Heights in West Auckland, finished runner-up in both the MX1 and MX2 categories on Sunday, and he also finished a solid fifth in the event’s all-capacities senior feature trophy race, his accumulated points for the weekend adding up to 92, two better than the next two best riders, fellow Kiwis Wyatt Chase (Taupo) and Maximus Purvis (Mangakino).
Another Kiwi, national MX1 champion Cody Cooper (Mount Maunganui), added his 88 points to the Kiwi tally and the job was done.
Best of the senior Australians was Melbourne’s Mason Semmens, with 84 points, while Tweed Heads rider Jay Wilson offered 82 points to the Australian total and Queensland’s Kirk Gibbs chimed in with 80 points.
Manawatu’s Glen Williams, the president of FIM Oceania and also president of the sport’s governing body in the part of the world, Motorcycling New Zealand, agreed it was a “great come-back from the Kiwi riders”.
“It is great for us to forge a closer relationship with Australian through this FIM Oceania Challenge,” said Williams.
“Senior riders were involved in this event, but the focus is actually on the juniors. The aim is to show a pathway to the top for the junior riders from both countries.
“It was very good to see the healthy rivalry between riders from both countries and it certainly added flavour to the event.”
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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