A staggering six different riders celebrated race wins during the four-round, Fox apparel-sponsored series – Mount Maunganui’s Josiah Natzke (Transdiesel Shell Advance Kawasaki Racing Team KX250F) the most prolific, winning a third of them, impressively capturing four victories in the 12-race series.
Eventual champion Maximus Purvis (Altherm JCR Yamaha YZ250F), from Mangakino, Christchurch’s Dylan Walsh (Altherm JCR Yamaha YZ250F) and Australian Kyle Webster (the Penrite Factory Honda rider who raced only at rounds two and three) each scored two race wins over the four rounds, while Oparau’s James Scott (Jeff Scott Electrical Alpinestars KTM) and Australian Caleb Ward (CML Racing Team KTM) each won one race.
Sadly for Natzke, being one of the fastest men in the country and having the most race wins in a championship series does not always make you a champion and that was a bitter pill for him to swallow.
It was definitely a fierce final showdown in Taupo on Sunday, March 15.
The 21-year-old Natzke arrived at Taupo’s popular Digger McEwen Motorcycle Park second in the MX2 (250cc) class standings, just four points behind Purvis, and with everything still to fight for.
Natzke had led the series from the opening round, but he lost that advantage at round three in Hawke’s Bay when another rider slammed into him at the start of one of his races, forcing Natzke to battle back from nearly a lap behind. In a stunning performance, he carved his way through traffic and finished eighth in that fateful race, his worst result of the series and one that would ultimately cost him the title.
When 19-year-old Purvis finished runner-up in both of the day’s first two MX2 races at Taupo, while Natzke finished third in race one and then won race two, it set up an intriguing scenario – whomever of these two riders won the day’s final MX2 race would take the title for 2020.
Purvis rocketed into the lead in that final race and never looked back, although, if he had, he would have seen Natzke on another furious charge through traffic.
It was an inspiring performance from Natzke, once again proving himself one of the fastest men on the race track as he clawed his way to the No.2 spot, but unfortunately, this was not quite enough and he had to settle for the runner-up position overall for the championships, finishing the series just six points behind Purvis.
Third overall for the MX2 championship was Scott, who was never off the podium and also won the battle-within-a-battle for Under-19 grade honours.
Natzke had consistently been one of the fastest men all season, often eclipsing even the best of the MX1 class riders (who were on 350cc and 450cc bikes), but outright speed does not always translate into trophies, especially when you often don’t have luck on your side.
“I needed a better start in that last race. Purvis got in front at the start and broke away. I managed to reel him in near the end, but it wasn’t enough,” said Natzke.
“I should have won the championship, but I was beaten fair and square today,” he graciously said.
“I wanted to win so bad today, but I’ll take this result on the chin and move forward now.”
Natzke has plans to race for Kawasaki in Australia later this year but that is now on hold with worldwide fears of Coronavirus impacting so many sporting competitions.
For Purvis, the MX2 title win became a nice book-end to the national 125cc title he won for Yamaha in 2018 and a treasured addition to the MX2 class title he won at the Honda New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix in later January.
Purvis is also due to be heading across the Tasman Sea to race in Australia and, after this success at home, racing against leading Australian riders such as Webster, Caleb Ward, Riley Ward (KTM) and Morgan Fogarty (Husqvarna), it is certain that he is now well-prepared.
It may be some consolation to runner-up Natzke that the rest of his 2019-20 season had been dotted with highlights – he won the MX2 class at the season-starting MX Fest event at Taupo last October and then also won the 2019 New Zealand Supercross Championships in the SX2 class, that competition wrapping up in November. He then also won the MX2 class at the 48th annual Whakatane Summercross motocross event near Matata in late December.
“I had been racing in Europe for five years before this and it wasn’t really a dream for me. I was sitting in my apartment by myself in Europe, feeling miserable. I was almost in a depressed state.
“Then I made the decision to come home and race for the Kawasaki team here and it was so cool. (Team management) Mike Cotter and Shane Verhoeven were so great and gave me so much energy and motivation. To look at where I’ve come from I’m so stoked about that.”
Meanwhile, in the MX1 class, visiting Australian Kirk Gibbs (Yamaha) enjoyed a five-point buffer over Mount Maunganui’s defending national MX1 champion Cody Cooper (Honda) at the start of the day at Taupo and, although Cooper won this final round, Gibbs did enough to clinch the title by four points.
There was no stopping Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly (Husqvarna) from winning the 125cc class crown. In total, he won nine of the 12 races over the four rounds, taking the title ahead of Tauranga’s Madoc Dixon (KTM) and Auckland’s Cobie Bourke (KTM).
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
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Final leading standings in the 2020 New Zealand Motocross Championships:
MX1 class: 1. Australia’s Kirk Gibbs, 280 points; 2. Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper, 276; 3. Auckland’s Hamish Harwood, 244; 4. Hamilton’s Kayne Lamont, 203; 5. Waitakere’s Ethan Martens, 176.
MX2 class: 1. Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis, 252 points; Mount Maunganui’s Josiah Natzke, 246; 3. Oparau’s James Scott, 228; 4. Christchurch’s Dylan Walsh 224; 5. Australia’s Caleb Ward, 188.
Under-19 class: 1. Oparau’s James Scott, 300 points; 2. Australia’s Riley Ward, 242; 3. Auckland’s Cobie Bourke, 226.
125c class: 1. Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly, 291 points; 2. Tauranga’s Madoc Dixon, 229; 3. Auckland’s Cobie Bourke, 213; 4. Christchurch’s Marshall Phillips, 202; 5. Rongotea’s Zac Jillings, 167.
Full results can be found here: