Natzke up with motocross elite
KIWI TEEN HAS GREAT CHANCE TO CLAIM EUROPEAN TITLE
The European 125cc Motocross Championships will go down to the wire in the Netherlands this weekend, with a young Kiwi hero at the forefront.
Waikato motocross ace Josiah Natzke is locked in a dogfight for the 2015 EMX125 title, with his Red Bull KTM teammate Jorge Prado of Spain the only rider who stands between him and ultimate glory.
While Prado leads the standings, Natzke is just one point behind and all will be decided at this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix at Assen.
Racing for Belgian-based Red Bull KTM Juniors, and with massive support from KTM and Red Bull in New Zealand, the Hamilton 16-year-old finished sixth and third in his two EMX125 races at the previous round, the Belgian Grand Prix, just over three weeks ago.
The statistics favour the Kiwi — he is the rider with the most wins in the series so far.
Natzke has secured several spectacular wins this season — scoring victories in Spain, Germany, France and Italy.
Of the 14 races thus far, Natzke has won five to Prado’s three.
But, even if everything turns to custard this weekend, Natzke still has plenty of reason to feel satisfied with his first full season of international racing, his achievements already greater than anyone, himself included, could have expected.
“The season didn’t start off how I wanted to, with me struggling with the tracks and adapting and I was quite a few points down. But I began to dig myself out of the hole and establish my place in the championship, taking race wins and even an overall, which was always the goal,” he said.
Natzke is continuing a proud tradition of unheralded New Zealand riders shining on the world motocross scene.
“New Zealand is quite well established in the motocross GP scene. I think Ben Townley [Taupo] and Josh Coppins [Motueka] really made a good name for Kiwis over here, so I’m trying to do the same,” said Natzke.
“I do feel a long way from home but this has to become my home as well, my home away from home. My sister told me, ‘Don’t let your heart come home before you do’, which is so true, because, if you let your heart come home, then that’s all you think about.
“It’s like I do want to go home, but I love it over here too. I enjoy each day and love the challenges. I do miss all my friends and family back home, though. ”
Natzke was keen also to offer advice to fellow New Zealand racers.
“You really have to want it. You can say you want it, but, until you actually show that you want it, you’re not going to make it.
“It’s tough and there are a lot of challenges, but if you learn to accept them, make the most of every situation, you will get through it.
“There’s no talk of what might be in store for me next year yet. I don’t think I would stay on a 125cc bike though. I’m just focusing on this year and I’ll do my best and I’ll let KTM decide my future.”
Natzke became the youngest rider to win a senior motocross title in New Zealand, at age 15, when he dominated the senior 125cc championships in 2014, before successfully defending his title, with support from the CMR Red Bull KTM team, in Pukekohe in March of this year, just a week before heading to Europe.