Honda’s Rising Stars Are Racing Towards The Top
JANUARY 29, 2023: The sport of motocross is in a healthy state in this country and this was in evidence at the weekend’s Honda New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville.
This iconic event was not able to be run over the past two seasons – due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022 and then the massive flooding in January last year – but the thrilling racing seen on the farmland course, at the eastern end of the Manawatu Gorge, on Saturday and Sunday more than made up for those lost years.
It was interesting to see a few fresh names appearing among the leaders in several categories, showing perhaps that New Zealand’s many rising stars have indeed now moved closer to the top.
Levin’s Phoenix Van Dusschoten (Motul Honda CRF250R) won the premier junior 14-16 years’ 250cc class on Saturday and the 15-year-old then managed sixth overall in the talent-laden senior MX2 class the following day.
“It was a great weekend. I won my junior class on Saturday, with three wins from three starts. I just decided to ride smooth and make no mistakes and I dominated,” he said.
“I thought I’d ride the senior MX2 class on Sunday, just to see how I’d go against the men. I’m doing the senior nationals for the first time this year and I’ll race again in the MX2 class.
“The best I’d ever gone before was finishing second in the junior nationals, but I’m showing the best form of my career now.
“I’ve been putting in a lot of work, in the gym and road cycling. I have been putting in the hard yards with my trainer.”
Meanwhile, fellow Motul Honda Racing Team rider Jack Treloar, managed to finish third overall, behind experienced international riders Hamish Harwood (from West Auckland) and Jed Beaton (Australia) in the premier MX1 class, for 450cc bike racers.
The 20-year-old from Invercargill finished 4-4-3 in his three MX1 races, remarkably ending the weekend just ahead of multi-time former national MX1 champion Cody Cooper.
New Plymouth’s Rian King, riding for the Crown Kiwi Alpinestars Honda Race Team, also stunned with his performances in the senior MX2 category on Sunday.
The youngest son of former Honda star Shayne King, the 500cc world champion in 1996, Rian King proved not to be overawed by his more experienced rivals, the 18-year-old finishing the weekend just ahead of Van Dusschoten at fifth overall in the MX2 class.
“I feel really good about this result,” said Rian King afterwards. “I didn’t think I was going to be that fast. I had good speed, but it didn’t work out perfect,” he said, the young man finishing just four points shy of a podium finish.
Making it a red affair in the cross-country phase of racing, in the always entertaining River Race, was Auckland’s Chris Power, the former national enduro champion taking his Honda CRF450RX model bike to overall victory, just ahead of Pahiatua’s Scott Sowry (Honda CR250R), as several other riders floundered or drowned their bikes in the tricky and treacherous conditions.
The Woodville event also boasted a unique New Zealand versus Australia competition for the females, the inaugural FIM Oceania Women’s MX Cup included within the weekend’s jam-packed programme.
Australian Honda heroine Charli Cannon led her six-rider contingent to victory in this unique Trans-Tasman women’s contest.
Credit: Wordsby Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com