Cooper wins the battle; Australia wins the war
There were four seasons in one weekend at the big annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville on Saturday and Sunday.
This Honda-sponsored 58th annual edition of the event, the largest on the Kiwi motocross calendar, had it all.
From burning sun and stiff breezes during junior racing on Saturday, to drizzle, interspersed with patches of sunshine, and gale force winds during senior racing the following day, riders really did have much more to contend with than just the usual ruts, jumps and bumps.
With rider safety of prime concern, the organisers pared back Sunday’s programme to feature just two races per class, instead of the planned three per class, but this was still enough for true champions to be determined in each of the separate categories and for the FIM Oceania Challenge Cup sub-plot to also be played out.
The event’s main winner was Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper, the six-time former national MX1 champion winning both the premier MX1 races on Sunday, earning him his third Woodville crown. He had previously won the coveted trophy in 2007 and a second time in 2014.
Runner-up to Cooper on Sunday was visiting Australian Kirk Gibbs, with Taupo's Cohen Chase rounding out the MX1 podium.
The New Zealand versus Australia element to the weekend, the FIM Oceania Challenge Cup, featured two squads of riders who had been nominated to represent their respective countries for the special trans-Tasman clash and the race-within-a-race battles see-sawed over the two days, with Australia’s squad eventually winning the cup by just a solitary point.
"What a day … but the patience shown by the host club in dealing with the weather paid dividends in the end," said Motorcycling New Zealand motocross commissioner Ray Broad.
"We got two races completed for each class on Sunday and the spectators were happy. I think the results today were pretty fair and I think they reflect similar results to what they would have been if we’d had three races (per class).
"The club and the officials did a fantastic job. It was challenging for the riders and, at the end of the day, they put on a great shows for the fans.
"As for the FIM Oceania Challenge Cup, at the start of racing on Sunday, the Australians led by just 2.5 points from the Kiwis. After race one on Sunday, Cody Cooper’s first MX1 race win cleared that deficit. But then Australian Wilson Todd won the first MX2 race and the Aussies were back in front. The Oceania clash was a great success and the Australians were naturally thrilled to be able to win it."
Meanwhile, other individual class winners on Sunday were Takapuna’s Hamish Harwood (MX2 class and senior 125cc class); Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly (Roddy Shirriffs Memorial trophy, top rider aged under 21); Hamilton’s Amie Roberts (women’s class); Whakatane’s Darren Capill (veterans’ class); Waipukurau’s Steve Sergeant (river race class); Taupo's Jake Tomblin (vintage motocross).
Individual class winners on Saturday were Australia’s Brad West (14-16 years’ 250cc class); Pukekawa’s Jack Dunlop (15-16 years’ 125cc class); Rangiora’s Cobie Bourke (12-14 years’ 125cc class); Hamilton’s Dylan Westgate (14-16 years’ 85cc class); Invercargill’s Jack Symon (12-13 years’ 85cc class); Leeston’s Kobe Thoms (8-11 years’ 85cc class); Leeston’s Kase Thoms (8-11 years’ pro 65cc class).