Taupo Set For Thrilling Final Motocross Showdown
MARCH 10, 2020: Everything will be all on the line at the fourth and final round of the 2020 New Zealand Motocross Championships in Taupo this weekend.
Just five points separate the top two riders in the premier MX1 class and there are only seven points to separate the top three riders in the MX2 (250cc) class as the racers arrive at the popular Digger McEwen Motocross Park, on the outskirts of Taupo, for this final showdown in this Fox-sponsored series.
Mount Maunganui's defending MX1 champion Cody Cooper has won four of the nine races in the three rounds thus far, while visiting Australian Kirk Gibbs has won five races and therefore it is the 31-year-old rider from the Sunshine Coast rider who enjoys a narrow lead.
However, with three MX1 races remaining on Sunday to wrap up the championships and 25 points available to the winner each time, with 22 points on offer for a runner-up finish, it's still too close to call.
West Auckland's Hamish Harwood is third in the MX1 standings, but 24 points behind Cooper.
In the MX2 class, Mangakino's Maximus Purvis and Mount Maunganui's Josiah Natzke are leading the way, Purvis marginally in front, and these two riders are locked in a fierce fight for the title, while Oparau's James Scott is just seven points further back, so a complete reshuffle is still possible at Taupo.
Purvis and Scott are both soon to be heading overseas to race and Natzke has just returned from a season racing in the United Kingdom, so these Kiwi internationals will each be keen to impress on Sunday.
Another Kiwi international, Christchurch's Dylan Walsh, and Australian trio Caleb Ward, Morgan Fogarty and Riley Ward are also perhaps within strike range of at least a podium finish, so the racing is guaranteed to be hot this weekend.
In the 125cc class, Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly has so far won a staggering eight out of the nine races at the first three rounds and he is a whopping 64 points in front at the top of the table, which means he has two races up his sleeve with only three to come at Taupo.
He will most likely wrap up the crown after the opening race at Taupo, but the question remains over who will take second and third. There are just five points between Christchurch's Marshall Phillips, Tauranga's Madoc Dixon and Auckland-based former Rangiora rider Cobie Bourke.
Motorcycling New Zealand motocross commissioner Ray Broad said he was looking forward to "a thrilling finale for what has been a great championship series".
"Cooper and Gibbs will again be taking their battle to the wire, just as they did in 2019, only this time it's Cooper doing the chasing.
"Everything will be on the line at Taupo and the club there always steps up to perform on the big occasions like this."
In addition to MX1, MX2 and 125cc class racing, the Yamaha YZ65 Cup is also on the programme for Taupo, just as it was at round one of the series at Balclutha, offering another opportunity for some of the nation's youngest rising stars to show what they're made of.
The series sponsors are Fox Racing New Zealand, Yamaha Motor New Zealand, Pirelli NZ, Ward Demolition, Aon, ICG, Kawasaki NZ, Blue Wing Honda, Raptor, Yamalube Yamaha Racing and TransDiesel Ltd.
2020 FOX New Zealand Motocross Championships calendar:
Round 1 – Balclutha, Saturday, February 1;
Round 2 – Rotorua, Sunday, February 23;
Round 3 – Hawke’s Bay, Sunday, March 1;
Round 4 – Taupo, Sunday, March 15.
Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com