NZ riders excel at Motocross of Nations
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NZ riders among world's motocross elite
New Zealand is back where it belongs, among the world's motocross elite.
From failing to qualify at the Motocross of Nations in Latvia last season to ranking No.8 in the world this time around at Ernee, in France ... it's an amazing comeback for the Kiwis at this big annual "Olympic Games of motocross".
"From not qualifying one season, to being inside the top 10 the next. I'm blown away," said Team New Zealand manager Howard Lilly after Sunday's final race at the steep and picturesque circuit near Rennes.
"I'm actually lost for words. It was a fantastic team effort with the riders receiving massive support from mechanics, supporters, sponsors ... everyone really."
Bay of Plenty's Ben Townley (MXGP class) was the leading individual, finishing 6th and 2nd in his two races, while Mount Maunganui's Cody Cooper (open class) managed 20th and 30th. Unfortunately, the third member of the team, Mangakino's Kayne Lamont (MX2, 250cc class), was blighted with bad luck, suffering three separate mechanical issues with his bike and was unable to finish either of his races. He was credited only with 34th and 35th placings.
"With us finishing eighth in the world despite having two non finishes gives you some idea of how impressive and important Ben Townley's results were. He is still a world class rider, even though he retired from fulltime racing two years ago.
"We are very disappointed about what happened to Kayne Lamont and his results are no reflection on him at all. It's just that it was he who copped all the bad luck," said Lilly.
Meanwhile, host country France, also the defending champions, fought off a stiff challenge from the United States trio to send the masses of screaming French fans into a joyous riot.
Third best nation was Belgium, followed by Estonia, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Australia, the latter finishing just 15 points ahead of the unlucky New Zealanders.
Each rider raced twice and, with five of the six results to be counted towards the team total, Lamont's cracked frame, engine seizure and then re-occurring rear brake issues proved extremely costly.
Team New Zealand received generous support for this year's bid from Kiwi companies WIL Sport Management and Workshop Graphics, and also appreciated the fundraising undertaken by the Taupo Motorcycle Club with their Battle of the Clubs motocross event earlier this year adding to the campaign coffers.
The Motocross of Nations will be hosted by Italy next September.