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HONDA RIDER WANTS THIRD WIN IN ‘THE GREATEST SHOW ON TURF’
Cody Cooper is determined to make it NZ Grand Prix win No3 on Sunday.
The Mt Maunganui rider is the national MX1 motocross champion and arrives in Manawatu as firm favourite to win what is regarded as the biggest stand-alone event on the Kiwi racing calendar — the Honda-sponsored NZ Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville.
He won twice — in 2007 and 2014 — and would like to join the exclusive band who have won three times when he lines up at the 55th annual GP.
The Honda rider won the MX1 class last year, although he lost to Australian Kirk Gibbs (KTM) in the feature event.
Cooper moved on to defend his crown during the four-round NZ Motocross Championships and sees no reason why he can’t repeat that success this season.
Winning at Woodville would be a perfect curtain-raiser.
“I love racing at Woodville and my build-up to the event has been going according to plan,” Cooper said.
“The track is always different at Woodville, always prepared so well, and it’s great that nobody gets to ride it during the year. It’s fresh for everyone.
“I’m glad that I usually get good starts because that’s very important at Woodville. I don’t like to be behind anyone because the dirt and stones that fly up can really hurt. I’d much rather be the one firing the bullets [at the other riders].”
The 32-year-old has some heavy-hitters lining up against him and they too are expected to be faster and fitter than ever.
Only five riders have won at Woodville three times or more in the past: Shayne King (9) and his brother Darryll (5), Josh Coppins (5), Peter Ploen (3) and Ken Cleghorn (3).
While plenty of international visitors have won, Kiwi riders are world-class and home-grown riders have dominated over the years.
Queenslander Gibbs won the main trophy last year, after a massive battle with Cooper, and became the first non-Kiwi in 25 years to claim the GP crown. The previous overseas winner? American Willie Surratt in 1989.
Gibbs is not coming but fellow Australians Todd Waters and Dean Ferris are crossing the Tasman and, with recent world championship experience in Europe, could be expected to feature, along with British GP star Jake Nicholls, who dominated the MX2 class last time he raced at Woodville in 2013.
Waters, Ferris and Nicholls will all line up in the MX1 class.
Kiwi internationals such as Brad Groombridge, Ethan Martens, Kayne Lamont, Josiah Natzke, Rhys Carter, Hamish Harwood and Scott Columb also have good reason to fancy their chances.
Racing over two days at Woodville caters for minis, juniors, women and veterans, with the novelty river race on Sunday always a crowd-pleaser.