VICTORY FOR HAMILTON TEEN TOUTED AS SUCCESSORTO KIWI MOTOCROSS GREATS OF THE 90S
Waikato teenager Josiah Natzke has claimed his first major win in Europe, an outstanding victory that his Kiwi followers hope will lead to many more.
The 16-year-old KTM rider from Hamilton celebrated victory in his first of two races in round three of the European 125cc Motocross Championships at Talavera, Spain, leading his Spanish teammate Jorge Prado Garcia past the chequered flag.
Natzke settled for runner-up in the next race, this time behind Prado — and missing out by just 7/100ths of a second. The riders shared the weekend’s points, although Prado got the nod for overall honours on the countback rule, having finished higher in the second race.
Prado continues to lead the championship standings, but Natzke has moved from fourth to third overall, with five rounds of the high-profile series remaining. He is 10 points behind French Yamaha rider Maxime Renaux and 29 points behind Prado.
The two young KTM riders drew praise from their team manager, 10-time former motocross world champion Stefan Everts of Belgium. “We have to give everything to Jorge today riding in his home GP, and with the fans behind him he manag-ed to ride a smart race.”
Everts said the track was also perfect for Natzke. “The first two rounds were not easy, but this track is perfect for him and in the first race he showed us his potential. He was disappointed he didn’t win the overall, but I am happy he was on the podium.”
Natzke was only fifth around turn one at the start of race two, but charged hard to be second before the end of lap two.
He slowly chipped away at Prado’s lead which made the last lap extremely intense as the Spanish fans urged their countryman on.
It was a tight finish, with Prado holding on to win by less than a second over Natzke.
“We both wanted it and I pushed as hard as I could the whole race,” said Natzke. “He [Prado] certainly knows how to ride a motorcycle, so much raw talent and skill. But it’s nothing I can’t compete with. He’s only human.”
The next round of the championship is set for Matterley Basin, near Winchester in southern England, on Sunday.
Rounds follow in France (Villars sous Ecot, May 31), Italy (Maggiora, June 14), Belgium (Lommel, August 2) and finally the Netherlands (Assen, August 30).
Natzke is a two-time senior New Zealand 125cc champion, having become the youngest rider to win the crown, aged 15, when he dominated the class in 2014. He defended his title with support from the CMR Red Bull KTM team in March, just a week before heading to Europe.
Natzke is part of the new breed of Kiwi talent hoping to keep the silver fern flying high, now that the Kiwi motocross greats of the 1990s have retired from international competition.