Cooper Snatches Back the Motocross Advantage
FEBRUARY 25, 2019: Bay of Plenty's Cody Cooper is on track to win his seventh national MX1 motocross title after yet another stunning performance at the weekend.
The Honda man from Mount Maunganui grabbed the lead in the premier MX1 class at the opening round of four in the 2019 New Zealand Motocross Championships near New Plymouth on February 3, but then had to weather an attack from his key rival, visiting Australian Kirk Gibbs, at round two near Rotorua a week ago.
These two men arrived at Pukekohe's round three on Sunday level at the top of the points table and difficult to separate on the race track too, the two men having swapped first and second position in every one of the series' MX1 class races this season.
When the 35-year-old Cooper (Alpinestars Motul Honda CRF450) won the day's opening MX1 race at Pukekohe on Sunday, it gave the Kiwi hero a three-point edge over the Aussie invader.
Cooper won the next race too and so his advantage was boosted to six points.
However, with his tyres fast losing their edge on the slick, hard-packed Pukekohe dirt, Cooper succumbed to pressure from Gibbs and was forced to accept the runner-up spot in race three.
The end result for the weekend is that Cooper is still on top, three points clear of Gibbs, as the competitors head to Taupo for the fourth and final round in two weeks' time, on March 10.
"I felt good in the last race and put myself in a good position, but I guess I should have put some fresh rubber on the bike. I'm gutted actually. The tyre was good for the first two races, but I should have put a new rear tyre on before that last race.
"Hey, I'm having little problems like this and I'm still leading the series, so I'm happy about that.
"I'm just looking forward to having no problems and getting a clean sweep. I'm looking forward to Taupo. I ride well there.
"The engine is completely stock and I got three holeshots today. I can't believe how good this engine is."
Meanwhile, West Auckland’s Hamish Harwood leads the MX2 (250cc) class from Mangakino's Maximus Purvis and Australian Wilson Todd, while Cooper's Alpinestars Motul Honda team-mate, Taupo man Wyatt Chase, found fresh speed at Pukekohe and improved at the weekend from sixth overall to now sit fourth in the MX2 standings.
Visiting Australian Kyle Webster took his Honda CRF250 to win the MX2 class at Pukekohe, his 3-2-1 score-card for the afternoon giving him the overall on count-back from defending champion Harwood (who finished 2-1-3 at Pukekohe).
Webster's time in New Zealand is now over as he returns to Australian to prepare for the national series there. He has no plans to return and contest the Taupo finale, although his abbreviated Kiwi campaign has certainly won a few admirers.
Dual class rider Harwood also leads the 125cc class standings after round three at Pukekohe.