The 2018 New Zealand Motocross Championships will go down to the wire at the fourth and final round in Taupo this coming weekend.
This is especially so in the premier MX1 class where visiting Australian Kirk Gibbs (KTM) leads home town hero Kayne Lamont (Yamaha) by just six points.
Defending national MX1 champion Cody Cooper (Honda), from Mount Maunganui, is only 12 points further back and so he is also in contention for the title win.
With 25 points for a race win, 22 for second, 20 for third, and so on, it is easy to see how a six-point advantage, or even 12 points, can rapidly dissolve.
Hawke’s Bay hosted a rain-drenched round three last weekend and, when the circuit at Fernhill became waterlogged midway through the day, the racing became something of a lottery.
Lamont saw his nine-point series advantage transformed into a six-point deficit and the former Mangakino man will be hoping to turn this back in his favour on his home track on Saturday.
“Kayne struggled in the mud at Fernhill, but he is very fast at Taupo and he’ll be going hard this Saturday. We expect him to do well there,” said Lamont’s Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team manager Josh Coppins.
Former GP star Coppins said any of half a dozen riders were capable of spoiling the party for the MX1 championship leaders and, because of Taupo’s volcanic pumice and sand terrain, rain would have little impact on proceedings, so the race action on Saturday could be particularly intense.
The MX2 (250cc) class championship chase is a little more cut and dried, with West Auckland’s defending champion Hamish Harwood well placed to make it three national MX2 title wins in a row.
However, the man second in the standings, Taupo’s Brad Groombridge, will also be relishing the prospect of racing at home and will push Harwood hard there.
Also, if Harwood suffers a little bad luck – such as a flat tyre, crash or engine failure – then anything is still possible.
In the National 125cc class, Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis (Yamaha) enjoys a 15-point buffer over visiting Australian Mason Semmens (KTM), but there has been little to separate these two on the track throughout the series thus far.
There are a bunch of other riders battling for a place on the 125cc podium too, with just 18 points to separate Rotorua’s Josh Bourke-Palmer, Wairoa’s Tommy Watts, Dunedin’s Grason Veitch and Napier’s Jacob Beal.
All of these individuals are extremely fast at Taupo and the battles will be hot to determine the final 125cc podium.
As with the earlier three rounds, Saturday’s racing is to be live streamed on www.mnz.co.nz and the NZMX Nationals Facebook page, thanks to the generosity of sponsors Workshop Graphics, Pirelli, Eni, Image Centre Group, KTM, Husqvarna, Fox Racing, Kawasaki New Zealand, Yamaha New Zealand, Honda New Zealand and Crombie Lockwood.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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