Team New Zealand Remains Strong Despite Changes
JANUARY 22, 2024: This coming weekend’s 61st annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville will perhaps be more significant than ever before, with a separate international competition also sharing the programme.
An announcement was made last month that the 2024 Honda New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville will also host the inaugural FIM Oceania Women's MX Cup, an event-within-an-event that will throw an extra spotlight on the elite females of the sport.
With sponsorship from Fox Racing New Zealand, as the team’s naming rights sponsor, along with support from Un4Seen decals, a six-rider New Zealand Women’s Motocross Team was quickly assembled to go head-to-head with the best half dozen female racers from Australia.
It’s a competition that, like any Trans-Tasman sporting clash, is sure to get the patriotic mostly-Kiwi crowd at Woodville all fired up.
Unfortunately, Waipukurau’s Aimee Thomsen and the rider originally designated as the team’s ‘reserve’, Maungaturoto’s Meg Patton, are now injured and they join other potential first-choice candidates Roma Edwards (Motueka) and Aime Roberts (Hamilton) on the sidelines.
But fear not, because New Zealand has an extremely capable ‘ring-in’ with Rotorua’s Letitia Alabaster prepared to step forward and this, ironically, may even serve to strengthen New Zealand’s bid. Alabaster was the top female performer at the big post-Christmas Whakatane Summercross event just four weeks ago.
The new line-up for Team New Zealand will therefore now comprise Alabaster, Raetihi’s Karaitiana Horne, Opunake’s Taylar Rampton, Morrinsville’s Breanna Rodgers, Palmerston North’s Hannah Powell, Waipukurau’s Aimee Thomsen and Rotorua’s Melissa Patterson.
Otago’s four-time and current women’s motocross world champion Courtney Duncan is unable to compete in the FIM Oceania Women's MX Cup, but she will be attending the event at Woodville as a mentor to the New Zealand squad.
“With less than a week until the FIM Oceania Women’s MX Cup, we are certainly looking forward to taking on the Aussies at Woodville,” said New Zealand team manager Ray Broad.
“With injuries to Aimee Thompson and Meg Paton, Letitia Alabaster has been brought into the team. Off the back of her win at Summercross, she adds another dimension to the team,” he said.
“We have a great mix of talented youth, with Karaitiana Horne and Breanna Rodgers, and the experience offered by Taylar Rampton, local rider Hannah Powell and Melissa Patterson. The FOX NZ Women’s MX Team is ready for the Aussies. I am sure they will do New Zealand proud.
“We offer a massive thank you to MNZ and FIM Oceania for supporting this event and for providing this opportunity for our riders. Also, thank you to FOX New Zealand and Un4seen Decals for all their support of the team.
“This is going to be a fantastic day and we hope everyone gets behind our girls.”
Credit: Words by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com