The New Zealand Supercross Championships wrapped up in the deep south on Saturday with new champions crowned in every class.
Taupo’s Cohen Chase showed that consistency counted most when he wrapped up the premier senior SX1 title, his 2-3-2 score-line at the series opener in Tokoroa a fortnight ago backed up by 3-2-2 results at Saturday evening’s final round at Winton, just outside Invercargill. He finished the series 13 points ahead of Nelson’s Reece Walker, with Dunedin’s Campbell King claiming third overall for the championship. Mount Maunganui’s Josiah Natzke was again in scintillating form at Winton, scoring another hat-trick of wins in the senior SX2 (250cc) class, giving him a clean sweep for the series and he took the title by a massive 34 points from Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis, with Waitakere’s Ethan Martens claiming the third podium spot for the championship.
In the senior SX Lites (125cc) class, the result was declared after the Tokoroa opener, with insufficient numbers entered for this class at Winton. Ohaupo’s Carlin Hedley, therefore, had done enough at Tokoroa to take the title for 2018, ending the championship ahead of Waiuku’s Nate Adams and Upper Hutt’s Brock Sullivan.
In the junior 250 class, Rangiora’s Korban Paget kept up the high work-rate to ease his way to the title. He had a solid lead after Tokoroa and won both of the early races at Winton. Even an out-of-character fifth placing after crashing in the last race of the series could not undo all the good work and he took the title by 13 points from Winton’s Connor Newell, while New Plymouth’s Curtis King completing the junior 250 podium.
In the Junior Lites (85cc) class, the two brothers who had been leading the series after Tokoroa, Hamilton pair Nicholas and Dylan Westgate, were no-shows at Winton, opening it up for Rongotea’s Rhys Jillings to dive right in and take the title. Invercargill’s Jack Symon actually won this class at Winton, his 1-2-1 score-card giving him the edge over Jillings’ 2-1-2 results, but he had to settle for overall runner-up, finishing just four points behind Jillings. Winton’s Jordan Newell claimed the third podium spot for this class.
This South Island round – billed as the “world’s southern-most supercross” – again attracted an impressive crowd of onlookers and the riders didn’t disappoint.
Motueka’s former Kiwi international Josh Coppins actually won all three SX1 class races at Winton but, as was the case with Oropi’s Ben Townley when he won all three SX1 races at Tokoroa, it was the sole supercross outing of the season for these two men and, with incomplete campaigns, they really had no chance of winning the title. In the end, Townley had still done enough to finish sixth overall, the Bay of Plenty rider on identical points to Coppins, although Coppins was awarded fifth overall on the count-back rule.
Motorcycling New Zealand supercross co-ordinator Noel May said he was feeling positive about the sport after this year’s series.
“We had been struggling a bit to get the entries up in supercross over the years, but we are now starting to see good growth,” he said. “We have a strategic plan that, over the next five years, we will be able to rebuild the junior segment to flow through and full the senior ranks. We had 85cc and 65cc support classes and 50cc demo races in the supercross this year, to introduce the sport to the young ones in the early part of their racing careers. Tokoroa has said they would keep their supercross track intact and we plan to have supercross events there during the summer. The same down south in Winton and Timaru, where the tracks there will be used regularly to help to keep the momentum going.”
The Tokoroa event this year, hosted by the South Waikato Motorcycle Club, was supported by Craig Stevens Yamaha and the Winton event, hosted by the Southland Motorcycle Club, was supported by Brent Scammell Honda.
Leading final standings in 2018 New Zealand Supercross Championships:
SX1 class: 1. Cohen Chase (Taupo) 98 points; 2. Reece Walker (Nelson) 85; 3. Campbell King (Dunedin) 76.
SX2 class: 1. Josiah Natzke (Mount Maunganui) 137 points; 2. Maximus Purvis (Mangakino) 103; 3. Ethan Martens (Waitakere) 102.
SX Lites: 1. Carlin Hedley (Ohaupo) 60 points; 2. Nate Adams (Waiuku) 47; 3. Brock Sullivan (Upper Hutt) 45.
Junior 250: 1. Korban Paget (Rangiora) 111 points; 2. Connor Newell (Winton) 98; 3. Curtis King (New Plymouth) 84.
Junior Lites: 1. Rhys Jillings (Rongotea) 99 points; 2. Jack Symon (Invercargill) 95; 3. Jordan Newell (Winton) 69.
Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan