Canham locks down 250cc class at North Island champs
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If the saying is true that you should never poke a bear with a stick, then giving Kawasaki racer Scott Canham a prod could be considered an equally risky course of action.
The national motocross No.4 from Rotorua was given an early wake-up call at the first of two rounds of the North Island Motocross Championships in the Manawatu on Sunday, stunned to find himself only third fastest during qualifying, beaten on the timing clock by American-based Foxton rider James Anderson (KTM), who is these days an infrequent competitor in New Zealand, while second fastest was fellow Kawasaki ace Sam Greenslade, from Coatesville, in Auckland.
But it got worse from there too for Canham, with Anderson winning the day's first of three races, Canham forced to settle for runner-up spot.
But then Canham got mad ... and then he got even.
Canham, Anderson and Taupo's Cohen Chase traded blows through the next race, each of them taking turns to lead, before Canham finally broke clear to take the win ahead of Anderson and Chase – and this meant Canham and Anderson were level at the top of the points table with one race to go.
"I grabbed the lead at the start of the deciding race, but then Anderson went flying past me," said Canham, a 21-year-old Rotorua sign-writer,. who races with support from the Patterson-O'Connor Kawasaki dealership in Rotorua, BikesportNZ.com, Jim Beam New Zealand and Carter's Tyre Service.
"But the track was getting pretty rough by this stage and I decided to try a few different lines. The track caught out Anderson and he messed up and crashed, also stalling his bike, and, by the time he was up and running again, I was long gone," smiled Canham.
"I won that last race by a long way in the end and Chase finished second, with Anderson third.
"I knew at the start of the day that Anderson was fast. He was three seconds quicker than me in qualifying. But I also knew that, if I could get a good start and I could run at his pace and eliminate mistakes, then it would be close.
"I don't think Anderson will be in New Zealand for round two of the series (in Hawke's Bay on September 19-20), so that means I'm probably in a good position to go on and win the title.
"It was definitely worth the drive down to the Manawatu at the weekend. I was a bit hesitant about my injured knee because I couldn't straighten the leg out properly, but pain is nothing new to me."
The other leading individuals at the North Island Motocross Championships were Taupo's Brad Groombridge, who won the MX1 class; Pukekohe's Kurtis Lilly and Feilding's Tony Cvitanovich, who shared top spot in the senior 125cc class and Cvitanovich also won the junior 14-16 years' 250cc class; Taupo's Wyatt Chase, who won the junior 15-16 years' 125cc class; Mangakino's Maximus Purvis, who won the junior 12-14 years' 125cc class; Oparau's James Scott, who won the 13-16 years' 85cc class; Matamata's Brodie Connolly, who won the 11-12 years' 85cc class and Rongotea's Rhys Jillings, who won the 8-10 years' 85cc class.