West Auckland’s Hamish Harwood almost ruled proceedings like a fox in the henhouse at the third round of four in the 2021 New Zealand Motocross Championships near Pukekohe on Saturday.
Harwood (CML Racing Team KTM450F) finished 3-1-1 in his three MX1 class outings on the steep and undulating circuit at Pukekohe, his third placing in the first-race a rare hiccup in his campaign thus far.
Prior to that, he had not finished a race any further back than second position and, in fact, he has now won six of the nine MX1 motos that have so far been raced.
“In race one, I got myself into a pretty good position off the start, passed Cody Cooper (from Mount Maunganui, Honda CRF450) for the lead and then made a mistake and he got me back. I tried another pass on him but then hit a slippery patch on the track and my bike’s front wheel washed out on me.
“It was on an uphill corner and the bike was in an awkward position. I lost a bit of time trying to get it all going again and then found the front brake was jammed on. It took me a while to free things up but the brakes were still not good and continued jamming. I tried not to use the front brake, but still got back into third. So it was all about damage control for me.”
“I had Cody (Cooper) nipping at my heels all through race two. As the leading rider, though, it’s hard to know where to go on the track without giving the rider behind an opening. It was close, but I won.
“I led race three from start to finish and I pushed hard all the way. I didn’t realise that Cody had dropped back. My pit crew were putting out signals that Cody had struck a problem, but I tend not to read those while I’m concentrating so hard on the track.
“All in all, it was a good day,” he said. “I have a good lead now in the championship and I like the Taupo track. I’ll just play it safe there. I have a good buffer. I can afford to finish third in every race at Taupo, but I’m not taking anything for granted.”
Meanwhile, Harwood’s young team-mate, Clevedon’s Cobie Bourke, also had a profitable day at Pukekohe.
Racing his CML Racing Team KTM125SX in the MX125 class, Bourke got better as the day wore on, finishing fourth in race one, second in race two and then he celebrated his second win of the championship series by taking the chequered flag in race three.
It means Bourke now owns second overall in the MX125 standings, seven points behind leader Hayden Smith (Gas Gas), of Silverdale, and eight points ahead of third-ranked Tauranga rider Madoc Dixon (Yamaha).
Senior NZ Motocross Champs points after three of four rounds:
MX1 class: 1. West Auckland’s Hamish Harwood, 192 points; 2. Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper, 169; 3. Taupo’s Wyatt Chase, 159.
MX2 class (provisional): 1. Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis, 194 points; 2. Oparau’s James Scott 154; 3. Silverdale’s Hayden Smith, 151.
Under-19 class: 1. Matamata’s Brodie Connolly, 150 points; 2. Te Aroha’s Luke Van Der Lee, 145; 3. Christchurch’s Marshall Phillips 128.
MX125 class: 1. Silverdale’s Hayden Smith, 179 points; 2. Clevedon’s Cobie Bourke, 172; 3. Tauranga’s Madoc Dixon, 164.
MX3 class: 1. Hamilton’s Darryll King, 137 points; 2 Whakatane’s Darren Capill, 122; Tauranga’s Brendon White, 85.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
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