KTM's Harwood rules the roost in two categories
It could well be that a fourth New Zealand Motocross Championships title heads the way of West Auckland's Hamish Harwood before the season is out ... maybe even two titles.
The former Takaka man, who now lives and works in Royal Heights, Auckland, took his CML Makita KTM Racing Team bikes to dominate both the MX2 (250cc) and 125cc classes at the first of four rounds for the 2019 Fox New Zealand Motocross Championships in Taranaki on Sunday.
The 23-year-old builder finished runner-up to Mangakino international Maximus Purvis in the first of three MX2 races on Sunday and was runner-up again in the next outing, this timer behind current Australian MX2 champion Wilson Todd.
But it was Harwood all the way in the deciding third race, the KTM man finishing 1.7 seconds ahead of Todd, with Purvis settling for third.
Harwood's 2-2-1 score-card for the weekend shot him to the top of the rankings, nine points clear of Todd (8-1-2) and Purvis (1-6-3), who were equal second, with Taupo's Brad Groombridge fourth, a further nine points adrift.
In the 125cc class battles, it was another three-rider tussle, with Harwood this time dominating completely, scoring a hat-trick of wins, while Tauranga's Brodie Connolly and Ngatea's Ben Broad fought over the No.2 position.
Connolly eventually took the overall runner-up spot, nine points behind Harwood, with KTM's Broad settling for third on the day.
"It was a great day. I still need to sort out my starts, because I am not happy with them ... which is kind of funny to say that because I grabbed a couple of holeshots today.
"I have the strength and the fitness to come through the pack when I start poorly and I made a lot of good passes early in the races, but I just really need to ensure I'm up front from the start.
"By the time I came through the field in the first two races, either Purvis or Todd were too far gone for me to both catch and overtake. I had a couple of nibbles at them, but not enough and it was pretty sketchy on this track, slippery and rough.
"I feel I'm stronger than I was last year. Me and Brodie had a couple of good battles, and passed each other a few times, but it was safe."
Round two of the 2019 Fox New Zealand Motocross
Championships is set for Rotorua in just two weeks' time (on
February 17). Round three follows at Pukekohe on February 24
and, finally, the nationals wrap up at Taupo on March 10.