Three riders could emerge as the national motorcross champion
With the four-round New Zealand Motocross Championships series at the halfway stage, three riders have revealed themselves as the most likely champions. But there are still six more races in each of the three classes to go.
The second half of the season kicks off on the outskirts of Rotorua on Sunday. Australian Dean Ferris and Kiwis Hamish Harwood and Ben Broad will be guarding their positions at the top of the MX1, MX2 and 125cc classes while everyone else will be sharpening their attack.
Ferris will be watching his back as fellow Australian Todd Waters and defending national MX1 champion Cody Cooper chase hard on the Phillips family farm circuit on SH30 at Horohoro.
Reporoa's Hadleigh Knight (Husqvarna), among the leading title contenders in the MX2 class. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com.
Scott Columb and Brad Groombridge, fourth and fifth in the MX1 title chase, also fancy their chances of moving up.
It’s an international-calibre class. Both Australians have represented their country at the annual Motocross of Nations in Europe. Cooper, Columb and Groombridge, among other Kiwis, have flown the flag at the event.
Ferris and Waters have never raced at the Rotorua track, while Cooper, Groombridge and Columb have an affinity for the place. This could change raceday dynamics, although Ferris and Waters are fast learners.
The MX2 (250cc) class seems to belong to Harwood. The 20-year-old has won three races and finished no worse than third in the others. Harwood will be nervously looking over his shoulder at another Australian first-time visitor, Jed Beaton, just 17 points adrift, while Hadleigh Knight, Ethan Martens and Micah McGoldrick make up the top-five list of MX2 class contenders. Knight will regard the Rotorua track as “home turf”.
“My campaign this year has been going way better than last year, but I’m still disappointed with what happened at round two of the series in the Manawatu,” said the 19-year-old farm worker.
Knight had been second and just six points behind Harwood at the start of the day but finished a lacklustre sixth, slipping back to third in the standings and 35 points behind Harwood. “I’m looking forward to Rotorua and the final round at Taupo, too. I know both tracks like the back of my hand,” Knight said.
In the 125cc class, Broad enjoys having the biggest margin of any of the class leaders.
He is 28 points clear of nearest challenger, Wyatt Chase, but is aware that with 25 points on offer for each remaining race, he can’t afford to relax.
Tony Cvitanovich, Kurtis Lilly and Blake Gillard are also on the pace to claim a podium position in this class. There is a break for the riders after this weekend, with the fourth and final round set for the Digger McEwen Motocross Park, outside Taupo, on March 20.