It’s game-on for Wilson Todd and his bid to become New Zealand motocross champion this season.

The 20-year-old Australian is in the middle of his first Trans-Tasman campaign and he’s starting to show that he could well grab the Kiwi MX2 (250cc) crown to match the one he picked up in Australia last season.

Supported in his Kiwi debut by New Zealand’s LMC Husqvarna Team, the Cairns rider marked his first appearance in New Zealand by finishing a close overall runner-up to defending Kiwi MX2 champion Hamish Harwood at the first of four rounds in the New Zealand Motocross Championships near New Plymouth two weeks ago, winning one of the three MX2 races that day.

He was also unfamiliar with the venue for round two of the series near Rotorua on Sunday and battled his way to fourth in the first MX2 race of the day.

But then he stepped up a gear, winning the next two races at Rotorua and clinching overall honours for the day. It also meant Todd was able to close in on Harwood at the top of the standings and he is now just three point adrift of the Kiwi hero.

Todd has won three of the six races in the class so far, but an eighth in one race in Taranaki and a fourth in the first race in Rotorua means he is still chasing the ultra-consistent Harwood, although three points is obviously not a huge deficit in the big scheme of things, with two rounds (six more races) still to come. 

“The first race was a struggle… actually I struggled all day today,” said Todd, in direct contrast to how effortless he actually made it look. “I had a mad wheelie out of the start gate in the first race and had to back it off (to avoid crashing), so I was way back in the pack. By the time I got into fourth, the leaders were long gone. I got out front in the second and third race and just stayed there, but I was still struggling. It’s good to get these results for the team but it’s not great knowing that I should be riding better than this. We mainly don’t have tracks at home like this. It was loose dirt and there were a lot of square edges. There were no real ruts to use. I’m more of a ruts or sand guy, but there was nothing like that here.”

It seems, however, that Todd is a fast learner.

“My first year of doing the Australian nationals was in 2016, when I was 17 or maybe 18, and it was a learning year for me. I did start winning races toward the end of the season. In 2017, I led the whole championship, but then I threw it all away in the last race. I came back in 2018 and led the Australian championships from about round three until the end. I want to win it again in Australia and that’s why I have come over here to New Zealand… to build up for our nationals. We Australians always seem to struggle in New Zealand, but it’s good to get some racing under my belt.”

Round three of the New Zealand Motocross Championships is this coming Sunday at Harrisville, just outside Pukekohe, with the fourth and final round set for Taupo on March 10.

Todd will race for the DPH Motorsport Husqvarna Team when he returns to Australia, his Aussie MX2 title defence there starting with round one at Appin, in New South Wales, on March 17.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

Australian rider Wilson Todd (LMC Husqvarna 250F), in sparkling form at Rotorua on Sunday.

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.

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.