Gibbs celebrates with Altherm JCA Yamaha racing team
Australian Kirk Gibbs is back on level terms, or maybe even just a little bit ahead, as the four-round 2019 New Zealand Motocross Championships reached the halfway point near Rotorua at the weekend.
Gibbs took his Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team YZ450F to win the day in the glamour MX1 class at the second round of four in the Fox-sponsored national series on Sunday, thrusting him back to the top of the Kiwi rankings.
The defending New Zealand MX1 champion from the Gold Coast wasted no time in getting his campaign into positive territory after being narrowly edged out by multi-time Kiwi champion Cody Cooper at the opening round of the competition two weeks earlier.
Gibbs won two of Sunday's three MX1 races, and settled for runner-up in the other, to grab a share of the championship lead – Gibbs and Cooper dominating the class and between them winning all six MX1 outings thus far.
Though level on points as they march on now to round three at Pukekohe this coming Sunday, Gibbs has a slight advantage over Cooper in terms of the count-back rule, his result in the last race better than Cooper's, and he will carry the leader's red number board on his Yamaha at Pukekohe.
Gibbs' Altherm JCR Yamaha team-mate, Hamilton-based former Mangakino man Kayne Lamont, has consistently finished third each time and he is comfortably third overall in the standings.
Lamont's superior starting skills also earned him an extra pay cheque as he clinched two out of three MX1 holeshots on Sunday.
"It was a good day for me," said Gibbs.
"I felt like I had good speed and rode well and the bike was handling really well. We go to the next round now at Pukekohe and that’s one of my favourite tracks.
"The last time I rode at that track I won races there. If I was told at the start of the season that I'd be first-equal after two rounds, I would have taken that, so I'm pretty pleased really.
"Me and Coops (Cody Cooper) are trading first and second at the moment, so it's hard to break away from him. I know he rides well and Pukekohe and at Taupo (venue for the final round) too. Hopefully I can come out on top.
"I just turned 30 yesterday, so this result at Rotorua was a late birthday present to myself," he laughed.
The third rider in the Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team stable, Mangakino's Maximus Purvis, finished Sunday fourth overall in the MX2 class – the day won by visiting Australian MX2 champion Wilson Todd – and he remains third overall in the MX2 standings after two rounds.
"It was good to see Kirk riding a bit more aggressively today." said Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team manager Josh Coppins.
"Kayne did well, especially considering he's still recovering from injury. He was very consistent and I'm happy with him.
"It was a mixed bag for Max (Purvis) today, but then sometimes I forget how young he is ... he's only 18 and this is his first year in MX2. But he's just got to avoid making mistakes. He has an occasional sixth or a seventh but then, in every other race, he's been on the podium."
Purvis is leading the extra MX2 battle-within-a-battle for under-19 age group honours.
Gibbs, Lamont, Purvis and the Altherm JCR Yamaha team is supported by Altherm Window Systems, JCR, Yamaha Motor New Zealand, Yamalube, GYTR, bLUcRU, Akrapovic, Ward Demolition, Star Moving, Holland Collision Centre, Workshop Graphics, Fox, YMI, YMF, Pirelli, Twin Air, DID, Renthal, Motomuck, Vertex, Motoseat & SKF.