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Hamilton’s Natzke on GP Podium at First Attempt

Hamilton’s Natzke on GP Podium at First Attempt

JULY 28, 2014: He’s 15, he’s fast and he’s a multi-time Kiwi champion ... now Waikato’s Josiah Natzke can write ‘Grand Prix podium’ on his list of achievements.

The Hamilton teenager became New Zealand’s youngest ever senior national 125cc champion at the start of this year and the writing was on the wall that the CMR Red Bull KTM star was on his way up in the world.

What nobody could have imagined was just how high he was going to rise, nor how quickly.

He made his GP motocross debut in the Czech Republic at the weekend, sensationally earning a podium result at this sixth round of seven in the European MX125 championships thanks to his fourth and third placings on the steep and treacherous circuit.

The GP rookie surprised everyone, particularly since it was his first visit to the Loket circuit and that he’d qualified only 20th overall during the preliminary sessions at the event.

“My qualification was terrible,” he agreed. “I was slow and, in all honesty, I sucked. There was nothing wrong with the bike. It was just me not being fast enough.

“I had to go to LCQ (last-chance qualifier) and I won that. I had 31st gate pick for moto one, which wasn’t ideal, but I had to make do with what I had.

“I got a ripper of a jump and came from the outside, gate 31, and got sixth around the first turn. I was quite chuffed with that.

“I had some battles and chased a guy down, who then fell in front of me. Almost bailed off the bike, but got out of it. Then I was chasing down third place but couldn’t make it happen and he pulled a gap on me.

“I ended up fourth in the race so I was on top of the world about that after the start of my day.”

His second outing was even better, Natzke again pulling off an incredible start and settling into second spot, before taking the lead at the end of lap two and holding his pursuers at bay for five laps before being kicked back to second position by eventual GP winner Brian Hsu, of Germany.

Natzke dipped another position when Sweden’s Alvin Ostlund also found a way past the Kiwi hero.

Hsu finished 1-1 to win the EMX125 GP round overall, while Ostlund twice finished runner-up to take the No.2 step on the podium, while Natzke’s 4-3 score-card gave him the edge over Italy’s Joakin Furbetta, who managed 6-4 results.

Natzke’s results were, remarkably, also good enough to position him 23rd overall in the championship standings, despite his not having contested the five earlier rounds.

Natzke’s first GP appearance at Loket was part of his build-up to the annual World Junior Motocross Championships, this season set for Bastogne, in Belgium, on August 10.

He has received massive support from KTM in New Zealand and Australia in this world title bid and, after his performance in the Czech Republic at the weekend, Natzke’s confidence is at an all-time high.

“The aim is to make a really good impression in Europe and, hopefully, it will lead to greater things, potentially a position on a Grand Prix team in the very near future, maybe next year or the year after,” said Natzke.

Natzke has previously raced overseas, in Australia and the United States, but this is his first trip to Europe.

“I don’t yet have any plans for racing in Europe next year, but if something popped up and the offer was there, why wouldn’t I take it?”

Natzke will also race at the seventh and final round of the EMX125 championships at Lommel, in Belgium, next weekend.

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