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Former Foes Team Up For Woodville Assault

The 2014 Honda New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville

Former Foes Team Up For Woodville Assault

JANUARY 14, 2013: Bay of Plenty rider Ben Townley was the big winner at the popular annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville last season, and the year before that too, and he is making plans to celebrate victory again this time around, possibly without him even touching a motocross bike.

It is just over a week away now to this “greatest show on turf” and this year’s 53rd annual running of the big Honda-sponsored Woodville GP, on the weekend of January 25-26, is set to be another massive ‘superstar showdown’.

Townley announced his retirement from professional racing in March last year, so he won’t be lining up to defend his Woodville crown, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have a huge impact on who does.

Townley manages The Honda Shop Racing Team and his No.1 rider, Mount Maunganui’s national MX1 champion Cody Cooper, is widely tipped to win at Woodville this time around.

Cooper, on this occasion riding a Suzuki, finished runner-up to Townley in the MX1 class at Woodville last season, before stepping up to clinch the MX1 crown at the 2013 New Zealand Motocross Championships in the weeks that followed.

Cooper then joined Townley at Honda late last year and, no longer rivals on the race track, they make a daunting combination now united as manager and rider.

Cooper last won the main trophy at Woodville in 2007, also then riding a Honda.

“Woodville is one of the best events on the New Zealand race calendar,” said Townley. “It is a big trophy to have on the mantelpiece. It is also good preparation for the upcoming motocross nationals.”

However, impressive as the Townley and Cooper combination might be, they will still have a job on their hands to fend off some mighty opposition at Woodville.

The Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team, CMR Red Bull KTM Team, Bel Ray Pro Rider Suzuki Team and Kawasaki New Zealand line-ups are imposing on any day of the week, but when they bring in a selection of international stars to bolster their ranks for the Woodville GP, spectators know they are in for some fireworks.

Scottish former world championship contender Billy MacKenzie again drops in to race for Yamaha, with Japanese rider Yu Hirata also joining the Yamaha squad for Woodville, while KTM has the services of leading Australian riders Kirk Gibbs and Ford Dale for the Woodville weekend.

Husqvarna poses an exciting new threat in the form of Mangakino international Kayne Lamont and British visitor Rob Holyoake, from Gloucestershire, while Australian hero Brock Winston may also appear on a Husqvarna at Woodville.

The Broxy Race Team will have New Caledonian pair Laurent Sath and Hugo Max further adding to the international quota at Woodville, while Australian youngster Anaru West will arrive to race a Suzuki RM125 at the weekend.

Meanwhile, Townley sprung a surprise last week by revealing he would again don helmet and boots to tackle the unique River Race at Woodville, bikes splashing through the churning water a real crowd favourite.

In a rare outing, he will ride a Honda CRF450X enduro bike to challenge Yamaha’s two-time former American cross-country champion Paul Whibley, of Pahiatua, for river race honours.

“It’s just another box I want to tick,” said Townley. “Everybody knows about this river race and I’ve often watched it, and laughed, from the sidelines. Now I’m going to take the plunge myself, if you’ll excuse the pun.”

This race will be one of the last outings in New Zealand for Kiwi international Whibley before he heads back to the United States to again tackle the Grand National Cross-country Championships.

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan,


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