There was much more to the weekend’s 58th annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville than met the eye.

In addition to its unrivalled status as New Zealand’s largest stand-alone motocross event, the Honda-sponsored two-day event was again this year  hosting the FIM Oceania Challenge Cup competition.

The Oceania battles see-sawed over the two days, with Australia’s squad ending the junior phase of racing on Saturday with a slender 2.5-point advantage.

This was mostly thanks to Australia’s Brad West winning all three of his Junior 14-16 years’ 250cc races, while New Zealand’s FIM Oceania representative, Whanganui’s James Rountree, finished runner-up each time. 

Weather conspired against the organisers on Sunday, with rain and gale-force winds causing havoc on the track, and a decision was made to scale back the day’s programme to just two races for each class.

In the end, the event’s main winner was Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper, the six-time former national MX1 champion winning both the premier MX1 races in Sunday’s abbreviated senior programme, earning him the prestigious Woodville crown, but, for the FIM Oceania Challenge Cup sub-plot, it was a slightly different story.

On both occasions the runner-up to Cooper in the MX1 class on Sunday was Gold Coast rider Kirk Gibbs, Australia’s MX1 class nominee for the FIM Oceania Challenge Cup battle-within-a-battle.

Cooper had earned 50 points from his two wins, while Gibbs – actually the current New Zealand MX1 champion – had a tally of 44 points for the weekend.

Australian Wilson Todd finished first and third in his two MX2 (senior 250cc) class races, while the Kiwi hopes for MX2 class ascendancy rested with Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis, who crossed the finish line fourth and then second.

The other class results in the head-to-head FIM Oceania exchange were something of a mixed bag, but, when the final tally was done, Australia had won the FIM Oceania Challenge Cup by a solitary point.

“It was really cool to win this and our juniors really pulled their weight,” said Australian MX1 star Gibbs. “Heading into the senior day, Australia was up in the points and then Wilson (Todd) did really well and I was consistent. It was really close and good to bring it home. We really enjoyed the banter with the Kiwis too.”

FIM Oceania results:

Australia:
Kirk Gibbs (MX1) 2-2;
Wilson Todd (MX2) 1-3;
Brad West (Jnr 250) 1-1-1;
Jason West (8-11 85cc) 4-7-9;
Hayley Ball (8-11 85cc) 32-DNS-27 and (8-11 65cc) 15-20-DNS;
Brooke Ball (65cc) 19-19-20.

New Zealand: 
Cody Cooper (Mt Maunganui, MX1) 1-1;
Maximus Purvis (Mangakino, MX2) 4-2;
James Rountree (Whanganui, Jnr 250) 2-2-2;
Cole Davies (Waitoki, 8-11 85cc) 1-0-1;
Breanna Rodgers (Tokoroa, 8-11 85cc) 23-20-18;
Ruby Piraka (Rolleston, 8-11 65cc) 22-22-18;
Karaitiana Horne (Raetihi, 8-11 65cc) 18-18-19.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

There were four seasons in one weekend at the big annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville on Saturday and Sunday.

This Honda-sponsored 58th annual edition of the event, the largest on the Kiwi motocross calendar, had it all.

From burning sun and stiff breezes during junior racing on Saturday, to drizzle, interspersed with patches of sunshine, and gale force winds during senior racing the following day, riders really did have much more to contend with than just the usual ruts, jumps and bumps.

With rider safety of prime concern, the organisers pared back Sunday’s programme to feature just two races per class, instead of the planned three per class, but this was still enough for true champions to be determined in each of the separate categories and for the FIM Oceania Challenge Cup sub-plot to also be played out.

The event’s main winner was Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper, the six-time former national MX1 champion winning both the premier MX1 races on Sunday, earning him his third Woodville crown. He had previously won the coveted trophy in 2007 and a second time in 2014.

Runner-up to Cooper on Sunday was visiting Australian Kirk Gibbs, with Taupo’s Cohen Chase rounding out the MX1 podium.

The New Zealand versus Australia element to the weekend, the FIM Oceania Challenge Cup, featured two squads of riders who had been nominated to represent their respective countries for the special trans-Tasman clash and the race-within-a-race battles see-sawed over the two days, with Australia’s squad eventually winning the cup by just a solitary point.

“What a day… but the patience shown by the host club in dealing with the weather paid dividends in the end,” said Motorcycling New Zealand motocross commissioner Ray Broad. “We got two races completed for each class on Sunday and the spectators were happy. I think the results today were pretty fair and I think they reflect similar results to what they would have been if we’d had three races (per class). The club and the officials did a fantastic job. It was challenging for the riders and, at the end of the day, they put on a great show for the fans. As for the FIM Oceania Challenge Cup, at the start of racing on Sunday, the Australians led by just 2.5 points from the Kiwis. After race one on Sunday, Cody Cooper’s first MX1 race win cleared that deficit. But then Australian Wilson Todd won the first MX2 race and the Aussies were back in front. The Oceania clash was a great success and the Australians were naturally thrilled to be able to win it.”

Meanwhile, other individual class winners on Sunday were:
Takapuna’s Hamish Harwood (MX2 class and senior 125cc class);
Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly (Roddy Shirriffs Memorial trophy, top rider aged under 21);
Hamilton’s Amie Roberts (women’s class);
Whakatane’s Darren Capill (veterans’ class);
Waipukurau’s Steve Sergeant (river race class);
Taupo’s Jake Tomblin (vintage motocross).

Individual class winners on Saturday were:
Australia’s Brad West (14-16 years’ 250cc class);
Pukekawa’s Jack Dunlop (15-16 years’ 125cc class);
Rangiora’s Cobie Bourke (12-14 years’ 125cc class);
Hamilton’s Dylan Westgate (14-16 years’ 85cc class);
Invercargill’s Jack Symon (12-13 years’ 85cc class);
Leeston’s Kobe Thoms (8-11 years’ 85cc class);
Leeston’s Kase Thoms (8-11 years’ pro 65cc class).

Credit: Words by Andy McGechan

Two of the senior Australian squad riders for the FIM Oceania Challenge Cup competition, Wilson Todd (left) and Kirk Gibbs, proudly hold the trophy at the end of racing at Woodville yesterday. Photo by Celeste Broad.

The World X-Trials Championship has gotten underway for 2019 already, and yes, you guessed it, Toni Bou has already notched up his first win of the season. The 2018 Champion showed his abilities in a triumphant return to Laszlo Papp Arena in Budapest.

Despite not being fully recovered from his rib injury, Bou managed to hold off the competition through the first round, collecting only a single penalty mark for his efforts, with second place netting six penalty marks. He then sailed through the semi-final round with only two marks, again beating out his rivals strongly. However, in the final showdown, Bou faced up against arch-rival Adam Raga, and the course pitted the two against each other on the same sections of track, but in reverse direction. Toni Bou lost a little ground to Raga initially, but the Spaniard was able to reassert his top position with some deft handling, reclaiming first place. Despite picking up an uncharacteristic five penalty marks in the penultimate hazard, Bou held on to the lead, taking the season opener win.

Repsol Honda Team teammate Takahisa Fujinami was, unfortunately, unable to produce similar results, struggling to make it past the second phase of competition.

The Repsol Honda Team will next compete at the second championship date at Palau Sant Jordi de Barcelona on February 3rd.

 

Toni Bou  1

RACE: 1ST   STANDINGS: 1ST

I’m super happy to start off winning. It was amazing to get this victory after the rib injury, which I’m still not recovered from totally. We must continue working to improve because I believe that I am not yet where I could be. I trained a little this year and I think I’m not at my usual level. There is still quite a way to go and I want to get there as soon as possible. Yes, in 2018 we won, but I suffered a lot because of the injuries. That is why I want to thank Joaquim Terricabras and all his medical team for the help they have given me, especially for the recent treatment for the rib injury.

 

Takahisa Fujinami  3

RACE: 8TH  STANDINGS: 8TH

I think that, honestly, today I had the chance to go through to the next round, but I made two serious mistakes and I didn’t achieve my goal. I think there are several riders all at the same level, and now that I have seen how this race went, I think that if I train a little more these two weeks I could get a better result in Barcelona.

 

Miquel Cirera

Team Manager

We have started the year well. But as always, you have to be cautious because with so many trials it will not be easy and there is always the odd day where you make mistakes. Toni is in pretty good shape, not yet at full fitness, but he always gives it his all. Takahisa has struggled a bit in this first event, with some faults, but we will work to improve on it in the forthcoming trials. I wish to thank the people who have worked so hard to be here, and especially the medical team who we have given a lot of work in 2018!

 

 

Results X-Trial Budapest 2019

Pos. Rider Num Nation L1 L2 L3 T3 Points Team Time/Gap
1 BOU Toni 1 SPA 1 2 10 20 Repsol Honda Team 10
2 RAGA Adam 67 SPA 6 7 14 15 TRRS Factory Team 14
3 FAJARDO Jeroni 4 SPA 11 8 2 12 Gas Gas Factory Team 2
4 BUSTO Jaime 69 SPA 13 6 12 9 Gas Gas Factory Team 12
5 BINCAZ Benoit 16 FRA 13 8 6 Beta Factory Racing 8
6 CASALES Jorge 33 SPA 15 4 Vertigo Factory Team 15
7 DABILL James 22 GBR 16 3 Beta Factory Racing 16
8 FUJINAMI Takahisa 3 JPN 19 2 Repsol Honda Team 19
9 PEACE Dan 17 GBR 25 1 Sherco Factory Team 25

 

 

 

 

It’s tough when you’re at the top of your game – everyone has you in their gun sights, wants to shoot you down and take the No.1 spot for themselves.

Bay of Plenty’s six-time former national MX1 champion Cody Cooper can feel the target on his back, although it’s something he’s become accustomed to over the past few years, and he is determined that it will be he who is “firing the bullets” at this year’s Honda New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville, coming this weekend, January 26-27.

Already considered the biggest and most prestigious motocross event on the Kiwi race calendar, the Woodville GP will this year feature an FIM Oceania Challenge, with points accumulated by the various nominated riders competing for the FIM Oceania Challenge Cup. Meanwhile, Mount Maunganui man Cooper has won the main individual title at the Honda-sponsored Woodville GP on two separate occasions in the past, in 2007 and again in 2014, and he has realistic ambitions to make it a third win this season.

He has also won the premier MX1 class at Woodville on several occasions, although the past few years have seen Australian visitors win the event’s namesake feature trophy – Kirk Gibbs taking it in 2015 and Dean Ferris in 2016 and 2017 – and then Hamilton’s Kayne Lamont won it last year. Cooper aims to put an end to those frustrations this weekend.

Cooper has typically moved on after Woodville to win the national MX1 crown and the 35-year-old has plans again to do that again this year, the four-round 2019 New Zealand Motocross Championships kicking off in Taranaki just a week after Woodville, on February 3. But first, there’s the little matter of winning the NZ GP title.

Cooper loves racing at Woodville and his build-up to the event has been going according to plan, with him winning the MX1 class at the Waikato Motocross Championships in November, before going on to dominate the MX1 class at the big annual Summercross event in Whakatane just after Christmas.

Cooper has some huge heavy-hitters lining up against him at Woodville again this year and they too are expected to be faster and fitter than ever before.

Gibbs is back again this season, here for both Woodville and the national championships series that follows, and he is definitely one rider who will be a thorn in Cooper’s side, along with another Australian strong man, Wilson Todd, and a first-time visitor from Switzerland, Ivan Boehlen.

Kiwi internationals such as Lamont, Taupo’s Brad Groombridge, Mount Maunganui’s Rhys Carter, and Takapuna’s Hamish Harwood, to name just a few, have good reason to fancy their chances too. Racing over the two days at Woodville also caters for minis, juniors, women, and veterans, with the novelty river race on Sunday also a major crowd-pleaser.

 

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan

 

It seems these days that every time James Rountree leaves the race track he is taking another trophy away with him. For the second time this season, the Whanganui teenager rode his Yamaha YZ250F to collect the silverware in the Junior 14-16 years’ 250cc class.

He won the junior segment also at the big annual Whakatane Summercross just after Christmas, winning the Junior 14-16 years’ 250c class that day, a breakthrough moment for the rising star.

And the 16-year-old was again in superb form at the weekend’s annual Mach 1 Yamaha-sponsored King of the Mountain Motocross in Taranaki, this event also one of the last major outings before the four-round 2019 senior New Zealand Motocross Championships season gets underway.

But Rountree was twice as successful at Taranaki’s King of the Mountain (KoM) event as he had been at Whakatane, winning both the 14-16 years’ 250cc class and the 15-16 years’ 125cc class on Saturday.

“Only a handful of riders did both classes, but it worked out okay for me. I managed to win all three races in the 250cc class. In the 125cc class I finished 2-1-2 and beat Luka Freemantle (from Palmerston North, who finished 1-2-3). I knew I didn’t have to win the last race to win the overall, but just finish ahead of Luka really. I was pretty tired and, when I knew I was ahead of Luka, I backed the intensity off a bit. My fitness is very good at the moment. I’m pretty happy with how my racing is coming along at the moment. I’ll ride the 125cc class at the upcoming senior nationals (which kicks off at the same New Plymouth circuit in less than two weeks’ time, on February 3).”

Meanwhile, Rotorua’s Josh Bourke-Palmer (Yamaha YZ125) was the best of the senior 125cc racers at the weekend’s KoM event, finishing ahead of Westport’s Reece McBride (Husqvarna TC125).

With that, Bourke-Palmer also wrapped up the 125cc class win for the North Island Motocross Series, the Taranaki event registering as the third and final round of that separate competition, and he finished that series ahead of Otorohanga’s Carlin Hedley (Yamaha YZ125).

Nelson’s Roma Edwards took her Yamaha YZ125 to score a hat-trick of wins in the women’s grade, finishing ahead of Te Kuiti’ Samantha Kelly (Yamaha YZ125) and Hamilton’s Amie Roberts (Yamaha YZ250F). Kelly had the added distinction of winning the class outright for the North Island Motocross Series.

Also impressive at Taranaki at the weekend was Whitford’s Brandon Draper (Yamaha YZ125), who won the junior King of the Mountain feature race, while Te Puke’s Kyan Loomans (Yamaha YZ125) also shone, winning of the 12-14 years’ 125cc class.

 

Words and photo by Andy McGechan