West Auckland’s Hamish Harwood had to take the good with the bad at Rotorua at the weekend, but he still emerged with his title hopes intact in two categories.

The 23-year-old builder from Royal Heights took his CML Makita KTM 250F into battle in the MX2 (250cc) class at this second round of four in the Fox-sponsored 2019 New Zealand Motocross Championships, determined to defend his crown and extend his championship-winning run to a fourth consecutive seasons, but he came under intense fire from Aussie invader Wilson Todd (LMC Husqvarna 250F) on Sunday.

Harwood had the measure of the 2018 Australian MX2 champion at round one of the New Zealand nationals in Taranaki two weeks earlier, but Todd fought back hard at Rotorua, winning the day with a 4-1-1 score-card over the three MX2 races.

Fortunately for Harwood, his incredible consistency, demonstrated by a 2-2-4 score-card on Sunday, has enabled him to keep hold of his series lead, although Harwood’s edge at the top of the standings has been shaved back now to just three points.

A dual-class ironman, Harwood (CML Makita KTM125) is so far unbeaten in the chase for 125cc class honours and he leads that category by 28 points from Ngatea’s former national 125cc champion Ben Broad, with Rotorua’s Josh Bourke-Palmer third overall after two rounds, 13 points further back.

“With (Tauranga’s) Brodie Connolly now (injured and) out of the 125cc class, I can tone it back a bit and just do what I need to do to get the results. The pressure is off me a bit in that class, although there are still some very fast riders there,” said Harwood. “In the MX2 class it didn’t quite go to plan for me today. I was in the lead for a lot of the first race, but then some lappers held me up and (Australian) Kyle Webster went around the outside of me. I ran out of time to pass him and was only about a second behind him at the finish. In race two I tucked the front wheel under me in the first lap and crashed. I was back in seventh or eighth and fought back to second place and wasn’t far behind Wilson Todd in the end. In race three, once again I crashed in about the third corner of the first lap and then a rider in front of me made a mistake and crashed and I went into him, hitting the dirt for a second time. I fought back to finish fourth. It wasn’t an ideal weekend for me, but I had good speed … I could have won, should have won … but things just didn’t work out for me. I’m still leading the series in the MX2 class and I have to be happy with that. It could have been worse.”

Meanwhile, another Australian, Gold Coast rider Kirk Gibbs, won the Aussie versus Kiwi battle in the MX1 class on Sunday and he is now first equal with Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper at the top of the MX1 standings.

There is no rest for the riders as round three follows this coming Sunday at Harrisville, just outside Pukekohe, with the fourth and final round set for Taupo on March 10.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

West Auckland’s Hamish Harwood (CML Makita KTM250F), still leading in two separate championship classes after racing near Rotorua on Sunday.

Australian Kirk Gibbs is on track to defend his Kiwi MX1 title, with the Altherm JCR Yamaha rider winning the second round of the 2019 Fox New Zealand Motocross Championships in Rotorua yesterday.

He and arch rival Cody Cooper battled it out again over three motos at the Rotorua Motocross Track, with Gold Coast-based Gibbs coming out on top this time around. He qualified in P1 and that set the tone for the first race.

“The day was really good. I got a good start in the first moto then had a good gap and rode to the win, so I was really happy,” Gibbs (29) says of his first race.

In the second outing he got a decent start but got pushed wide.

“I made it really tough for myself. I was probably back in about 10th or so, then had to make my way back. I got into second but just couldn’t bridge the gap to Coops [Cody Cooper] and finished there.”

The third race went the same way as the first and Gibbs pulled away, maintaining the gap to win the race and take the overall round win.

“I put a little peg back in for the championship. Coops beat me by three points at the first round and then I beat him by three points yesterday,” Gibbs says.

Altherm JCR Yamaha’s Team Manager Josh Coppins was happy with how Gibbs responded to finishing the first round in second place.

“He’s definitely finding his straps and riding fast and really well. It was cool to see him win and get the results he deserves. He’s really upped the ante and is in a good position looking forward to the third round this coming weekend,” Coppins says.

Altherm JCR Yamaha MX1 rider Kayne Lamont was super-consistent finishing third in all three races at the second round of the 2019 Fox New Zealand Motocross Championships in Rotorua yesterday.

Gibb’s fellow Altherm JCR Yamaha MX1 rider Kayne Lamont was once again consistent, with three becoming his lucky number throughout the day. Qualifying third, Hamilton’s Lamont (25) finished in that same position in all three races and was third for the round.

“I had two out of the three holeshots, so my starts were there. I managed to run with the boys for a little bit at the start but kind of ran out of puff and managed to circulate to get third. I had enough pace to hang with them but just not through the whole duration of the race. It was just the lack of pre-training and quality bike time. I will catch up with Josh and test some suspension to see if we can improve a little bit for the last two rounds,” Lamont says, referencing the pre-season knee injury that kept him off the bike during the key preparation months.

Coppins says that “Kayne is consistently there. He doesn’t quite have the bike fitness yet.”

Altherm JCR Yamaha rider Maximus Purvis scored a 3-7-2 set of race results to place him fourth overall for the second round of the 2019 Fox New Zealand Motocross Championships in Rotorua yesterday. He is also leading the Under-19 class.

Altherm JCR Yamaha MX2 contender Maximus Purvis had a set of races similar to the previous round.

“He had two good motos and one bad moto, where he didn’t quite execute things right. He hasn’t had the same level of competition before and in his first year in MX2, he’s now up against a lot of international riders.”

Purvis (18), of Mangakino, says his third race was the best of the three.

“I holeshot Wilson [Todd] then he passed me, and I just chased him around to finish second.”

A third in the first outing and seventh in the second race gave him fourth overall for the weekend.

“That second moto really hurt him. He’s got good speed but he’s just struggling to adapt to the intensity of so many good riders and the fact that you get punished when you don’t get everything right. He has to fight for every inch. Max is leading the Under-19 class, scoring the round win in this category yesterday and if he wants to win that MX2 title, he’s got to turn things around in his consistency,” Coppins says.

The overcast conditions made for favourable racing, with the Rotorua Motocross Club doing a great job of keeping the dust down.

The team truck headed back to Yamaha in Auckland last night, where the two YZ450s and one YZ250 will be prepared for the third round at the clay-based Pukekohe track this weekend. The Altherm JCR Yamaha riders will also have a test day in Taupo before they return to competition on Sunday.

“We’ll put a good effort in this week and do the best we can to have everyone ready to fight for the championship in both classes,” Coppins concludes.

Altherm JCR Yamaha would like to thank their sponsors: Altherm Window Systems, JCR, Yamaha Motor New Zealand, Yamalube, GYTR, bLUcRU, Akrapovic, Ward Demolition, Star Moving, Holland Collision Centre, Workshop Graphics, Fox, YMI, YMF, Pirelli, Twin Air, DID, Renthal, Motomuck, Vertex, Motoseat & SKF. 

Altherm JCR Yamaha 2019 Fox MNZ MX National Championship 

Round 1 – Sunday 3rd February – Taranaki
Round 2 – Sunday 17th February – Rotorua
Round 3 – Sunday 24th February – Pukekohe
Round 4 – Sunday 10th March – Taupo

Altherm JCR Yamaha rider Kirk Gibbs won the MX1 class at the second round of the 2019 Fox New Zealand Motocross Championships in Rotorua yesterday.

Repsol Honda Team rider Toni Bou rode to victory in the third round of the FIM X-Trial World Championship held tonight in Bilbao. The second win of the season sees the champion bounce back to the head of the overall standings. 

As Bilbao debuted as a host in the FIM X-Trial World Championship, spectators at the Bizkaia Arena-BEC were able to witness a somewhat hesitant start from Toni Bou who nevertheless made the cut for the second phase.

The second round saw the Repsol Honda Team rider finish on equal points with Adam Raga whom he went on to beat in a thrilling final. The final proved to be a hotly disputed one with Bou emerging victorious for the second time this season. 

The win means that Toni Bou, once again, retakes the top spot in the overall rankings with a five-point advantage over Adam Raga.

The fourth trial of the X-Trial World Championship is scheduled for this coming Saturday, February 23rd at the Palacio Municipal de Deportes in Granada, Spain.

Toni Bou

RACE: 1ST   STANDINGS: 1ST 

I am very happy to win here in Bilbao after the second position in Barcelona and to regain the lead. We knew that this year would be very complicated as it is very easy to not get through to the next round with this system and the high level of the riders. We know that we could miss out on any event, so to get a win is very satisfying. This championship is very short and we know that we are not at 100% physically. I lack continuity but luckily I have the aggressiveness, so we will work hard to get to Granada in the best possible conditions.

Miquel Cirera

Team Manager

It was not an easy trial. Adam Raga is not making things easy for Toni and is taking advantage of the fact that our rider is not at 100%. Even so we were able to obtain a crucial victory. Today we had a minor problem due to the indisposition of Toni Bou’s usual minder Marc Freixa. In the end we were able to sort it out with the inclusion of Oriol Terricabras as his minder whom we wish to congratulate for his good work.

Results X-Trial Bilbao 2019 

Pos.RiderNumNationL1L2L3T3PointsTeamConstructorTime/Gap
1BOU Toni1SPA20Repsol Honda TeamMontesa7
2RAGA Adam67SPA15TRRS Factory TeamTRRS9
3BINCAZ Benoit16FRA12Beta Factory RacingBeta5
4BUSTO Jaime69SPA9Gas Gas Factory TeamGas Gas11
5GELABERT Miquel11SPA6Sherco Factory TeamSherco16
6FAJARDO Jeroni4SPA4Gas Gas Factory TeamGas Gas18
7MARCELLI Gabriel38SPA3RG TeamMontesa12
8PETRELLA Luca98ITA2Beta Factory RacingBeta15
9HAGA  Sondre 99NOR1TRRS Factory TeamTRRS21

Rider Standings 

Pos.RiderNumNationPointsTeamConstructor
1BOU Toni1SPA55Repsol Honda TeamMontesa
2RAGA Adam67SPA50TRRS Factory TeamTRRS
3BUSTO Jaime69SPA30Gas Gas Factory TeamGas Gas
4FAJARDO Jeroni4SPA25Gas Gas Factory TeamGas Gas
5BINCAZ Benoit16FRA24Beta Factory RacingBeta
6GELABERT Miquel11SPA10Sherco Factory TeamSherco
7CASALES Jorge33SPA6Vertigo Factory TeamVertigo
8FUJINAMI Takahisa3JPN5Repsol Honda TeamMontesa
9MARCELLI Gabriel38SPA3RG TeamMontesa
10DABILL James22GBR3Beta Factory RacingBeta
11PETRELLA Luca98ITA3Beta Factory RacingBeta
12HAGA  Sondre 99NOR1TRRS Factory TeamTRRS
13PEACE Dan17GBR1Sherco Factory TeamSherco

After a buoyant period of testing, development and preparation, Yamaha Motor Europe N.V. is poised for success with two high profile MXGP teams and four exceptional riders spearheading its 2019 MXGP World Championship campaign.

Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP will lead the challenge with Romain Febvre and Jeremy Seewer at the helm of the advanced YZ450FM. Following a two month break at the end of 2018, Febvre has had an incredible off-season and is feeling fit, fast, and strong as he enters his fourth consecutive year inside the premier class with the Michele Rinaldi led team. With 12 Grand Prix wins to his credit and 32 podium finishes, the 26-year-old Frenchman looks to return to the same form that saw him win his first MXGP world title back in 2015.

Romain Febvre

Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s newest recruit, Seewer, made a successful team debut back in October last year with a silver-medal finish at the final round of the All Japan Championship in Sugo. The talented Swiss rider looks forward to entering his second season on the 450cc bike with the support of the Factory team where he hopes to achieve the same sort of success he attained on a 250cc where he stood on the podium 26 time, five of which were Grand Prix wins.

Jeremy Seewer

Strengthening Yamaha’s 2019 crusade, Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha MXGP has retained Arnaud Tonus for a third season. In addition, the team has welcomed a familiar name back to the Yamaha Family in the form of Gautier Paulin. Both Tonus and Paulin are experienced Grand Prix racers with an honorable list of achievements that includes a combined total of 63 podium finishes and 13 Grand Prix wins. Having finished inside the top-three in the MXGP Championship on three occasions, 53 of those podium achievements belong to Paulin who has topped the box 12 times.

After a solid off-season where both riders have regularly trained together on the bike and off, the dynamic duo have reaped the benefits of working together and are likely to put their YF450F motorcycles on the podium this season.

Both teams will travel to Argentina at the end of February where the first round of the nineteen round MXGP series will commence on March 2nd and 3rd.

Kiwi former motocross world champion Ben Townley has signed on to become a brand ambassador for Yamaha in New Zealand, an exciting new development inspired and enabled by long-time friend and former Grand Prix rival Josh Coppins.

Tauranga’s Townley (YZ450F), along with his son Levi (YZ65), a rising star on the junior motocross scene in New Zealand, have already collected their new Yamaha bikes and they are both thrilled to be moving into the future with Yamaha. Ben’s youngest son Jaggar will make the move across to Yamaha when he steps up to the YZ65.

“It’s very exciting and came quite out of the blue,” said the 34-year-old Townley. “This is a great opportunity for Levi, who has really started to sink his teeth into motocross racing. Yamaha has a great range of motorcycles and Josh has always been someone that I’ve looked up to and I have a lot of respect for is it will be great to work with him in his role. He’s very professional and sets a very high standard for motorcycling in New Zealand.”

Townley became MX2 (250cc) motocross world champion in 2004 and then stepped up to the MX1 class the following season, where he battled all season long with Belgian Yamaha ace Stefan Everts and fellow Kiwi Coppins. 

Everts won the MX1 world title in 2005, with Coppins runner-up and Townley finishing third overall.

Coppins said the appointment of Townley was an important part in his bid to rebuild Yamaha’s Junior Racing (YJR) programme within New Zealand.

“We already have some great representation within the Yamaha brand with Rhys Carter (Mount Maunganui’s national MX1 No.4) running coaching clinics and now with Ben Townley as brand ambassador. We are looking forward to working with someone of Ben’s calibre. To have someone with his experience fostering and mentoring our younger riders is very exciting. With Rhys looking after coaching and Ben running the junior programme, and some other exciting stuff coming up too, there’s a lot of positive things happening right now. This is the first step… we have a lot of other things happening down the track. Watch this space.”

Words by Andy McGechan

Bay of Plenty’s Ben Townley (Yamaha), with his eldest son Levi, excited about moving into the future with Yamaha.