New Zealand has a new national MX1 motocross champion … and he’s an Australian.
Queenslander Kirk Gibbs (KTM) powered his way to the premier Kiwi motocross crown with another sound and solid performance, this time at the crucial fourth and final round of the 2018 series at Taupo on Saturday.
The likeable 29-year-old rider from the Gold Coast started the day six points clear of nearest challenger Kayne Lamont (Yamaha), the man from Mangakino who had led the series after rounds one and two but who lost his grip at a muddy round three near Hastings a week earlier, on that day allowing Gibbs to grab the series lead.
Gibbs knew he needed to keep a cool head to keep Lamont at bay on Saturday, the Yamaha rider on his home turf and determined to snatch back his advantage and also claim the title.
But it all went horribly wrong for former national MX2 champion Lamont on Saturday, with a succession of crashes ruining his fight-back hopes.
It was actually defending national MX1 champion Cody Cooper (Honda), from Mount Maunganui, who came on strongest at Taupo on Saturday, winning the day and propelling himself up from third overall, past Lamont and into the overall runner-up spot.
Gibbs “played it safe” and finished the day second overall at Taupo, his 1-3-3 score-card in the three MX1 races enough for him to secure the title.
Meanwhile, another Australian rider, Todd Waters (Honda), appearing in only his second round of the Kiwi domestic series this year, finished on the day’s podium in Taupo, third overall for the event, behind Cooper and Gibbs. This was also enough for Waters to force his way into 11th overall for the series, despite contesting only half the races.
In the MX2 (250cc) class, West Auckland’s Hamish Harwood (KTM) was the runaway winner.
With 11 wins from 12 starts in the series, Harwood was untroubled in defending his 2017 MX2 crown and also making it three national MX2 title wins in a row.
Runner-up was national cross-country champion Brad Groombridge (Suzuki), the Taupo man again showing his versatility, while eventual third overall in the MX2 class was another Australian visitor, Jay Wilson (Yamaha), the former Grand Prix star bouncing back after several mechanical set-backs earlier in the series.
The hunt for National 125cc class honours was made a little easier for Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis when his nearest challenger, Australian Mason Semmens, crashed out of the first race on Saturday and he took no further part in the day’s racing.
This proved doubly costly for Semmens, who not only had to abandon his attack on Purvis, but he also saw his runner-up spot snatched away by hard-charging Wairoa rider Tommy Watts (Husqvarna).
Semmens was therefore forced to accept third overall in the National 125cc class.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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Leading final overall standings:
1. Kirk Gibbs (Australia, KTM) 261 points; 2. Cody Cooper (Mount Maunganui, Honda) 250; 3. Kayne Lamont (Hamilton, Yamaha) 222; 4. Rhys Carter (Mount Maunganui, Kawasaki) 209; 5. John Phillips (Rotorua, Honda) 198.
MX2 (250cc) class:
1. Hamish Harwood (West Auckland, KTM) 297 points; 2. Brad Groombridge (Taupo, Suzuki) 227; 3. Jay Wilson (Australia, Yamaha) 197; 4. Hayden Smith (Taihape, KTM) 187; 5. Micah McGoldrick (Rangiora, Honda) 165.
National 125cc class:
1. Maximus Purvis (Mangakino, Yamaha) 294 points; 2. Tommy Watts (Wairoa, Husqvarna) 212; 3. Mason Semmens (Australia, KTM) 204; 4. Josh Bourke-Palmer (Rotorua, Yamaha) 202; 5. Grason Veitch (Dunedin, KTM) 195.
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 pictures from the weekend.
Full results can be found here: