The West Auckland rider earned that honour with his winning performance at Woodville on Sunday.
The country’s elite motocross riders came together, as they always do, for the annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville at the weekend, only this time around there was more than just GP silverware up for grabs – this year’s 60th anniversary Woodville event was also recognised for the first time as the opening skirmish in this year’s four-round New Zealand Motocross Championships series.
The Tararua region turned on another scorcher for the two-day Woodville event – day one set aside for the juniors and day two for the seniors, as well as incorporating round one of the senior nationals – a good-sized crowd showing up to help the host Manawatu-Orion Motorcycle Club celebrate the 60th birthday of their iconic GP event.
Harwood took his CML Racing Team KTM450F to finish 1-2 in his two championship races in the MX1 title chase, with the result of the day’s third and final 15-minute “sprint” race added to the tally for GP trophy honours only.
The 25-year-old Harwood, the national No.3 in this class last season and the defending Woodville GP champion, finished an unaccustomed fourth in that third and final race on Sunday – giving him a three-race record of 1-2-4 for the day – and that meant he missed out on defending his 2020 Woodville GP title by just one solitary point.
Taupo’s Wyatt Chase (Yamaha) scored 5-1-1 results on Sunday and that earned him his first MX1 class Woodville GP trophy.
“That was a shame for me not winning the GP trophy for a second year,” said Harwood afterwards. “But the main thing for me is to win the MX1 class in the nationals … that’s what really matters. Winning the Woodville trophy again would have been nice, but it’s not a priority for me,” he explained.
“I don’t think I rode my best today. My riding has improved but there’s more improvement to come yet. Bring it on for Rotorua (round two of the nationals in three weeks’ time).”
While Harwood may be his own harshest critic, there was certainly another individual who would be hard pressed to find any fault at all with his performance, Waitoki’s Cole Davies.
Racing in Saturday’s junior programme at Woodville, Davies (KTM85) finished the day unbeaten as he led a top-six KTM clean sweep of the 12-13 years’ 85cc class.
The podium in this class was completed by Invercargill’s Seth Morrow and Eketahuna’s Sheldon Brown, with just one point to separate the other three riders who made up the top half dozen in this class, fellow KTM riders Reuben Smith (Bombay), Delton Manson (Rotorua) and Aydan Hall (Whakatane).
It was a similar story with Te Puke’s Flynn Watts, who took his KTM125 to score a hat-trick of wins in the 12-14 years’ 125cc class at Woodville, heading home fellow KTM star Kobe Thoms, from Leeston, in the South Island.
Invercargill’s Jack Symon (KTM125) was another who proved to be consistently good, three runner-up finishes allowing him to top the podium in the 15-16 years’ 125cc class, finishing Saturday’s junior racing just one point ahead of fellow KTM rider Rian King, from New Plymouth, with Tauranga’s Madoc Dixon (Yamaha) third, just two points further back.
The New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships are set for the Bay of Plenty this coming weekend and these results surely install the likes of Davies, Morrow, Brown, Watts, Thoms, Symon, King and Dixon as favourites in their respective classes.
The scintillating performance of Pukekawa’s Tyler Brown (Kawasaki) – unbeaten in the eldest of the junior categories, the 14-16 years’ 250cc class – will have his national championship rivals scrambling to find answers ahead of junior championship racing near Tauranga next weekend.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
Find BikesportNZ.com on FACEBOOK here