Former national champions and Kiwi internationals from the recent past will all flock together to race once again in Central Hawke’s Bay this coming weekend.

And while these individuals should certainly be favoured to dominate at the 2019 New Zealand Veterans’ and Women’s Motocross Championships in Otane this Saturday and Sunday, it’s highly likely that a few unexpected names may end up being engraved on the trophies this time around, such is the depth of talent that will be on show at the Bay Motorcycles-supported event.

The popular annual event will feature many riders who, despite their veteran status, still rate among the sport’s elite, while the female side of the sport that shares the race programme will be no less intense.

Stand-outs among those entered for the annual event include 1996 500cc motocross world champion Shayne King, from New Plymouth; twice former motocross world No.2 Josh Coppins, from Motueka; former veterans’ world champion Tony Cooksley, from Pukekohe, and former multi-time national champion Damien King, from Cambridge, who also went on to race the Grand Prix scene in Europe.

Former national 500cc motocross champion Mitch Rowe, from New Plymouth; former GP racer Cameron Negus, from Rotorua; multi-time former national champion Mike Cotter, from Cambridge, and New Plymouth’s David Furze, will also be lining up this weekend, along with Te Awamutu’s Mark Penny, Te Kauwhata’s Matt Vining, Auckland’s Steven Croad and Taupiri’s Mark Fuller, all four of whom were formerly top cross-country racing exponents.

British former Grand Prix star Kurt Nicoll, four times a 500cc motocross world No.2, is also a late entry and sure to be a drawcard.

Riders who primarily made their name on the road-bike scene, Feilding’s former 125GP exponent Kris Shirriffs and Whanganui’s super motard ace Ant Rountree, will be there to show they’re just as quick on dirt.

In the women’s section of the programme, expect to see riders such as Cambridge’s Zara Gray, Hamilton’s Amie Roberts, New Plymouth’s Mikayla Rowe, Motueka sisters Tyla and Roma Edwards, Ohawea’s Taylar Rampton, Invercargill’s Charlotte Clark and Ngatea’s Brooke Dalley to feature near the front.

Late entries are still likely to arrive from several veterans’ and women’s grade frontrunners from the recent past, including perhaps Blenheim’s Moston Wadsworth, Nelson’s Bryan Heaphy, Hawera’s Daryl Hurley, Inglewood’s Larry Blair, Whakatane’s Darren Capill, Auckland-based former Swiss international Gaudenz Gisler, Winton’s Brent Scammell, Blenheim’s Steve Lange, Christchurch’s Dean Baird, former Otago rugby captain David Latta, Lincoln’s Kelly Garland and Rotorua pair Letitia Alabaster and Mel Patterson, to name a few.

Hosted on Twist’s property at 1080 Argyll Road, Otane, the two-day event certainly features an entry list that reads like a who’s who and who-used-to-be-who of the sport.

The event again presents real value for money for spectators, with racing over two days for both the elite females, in both the junior and senior grades, and intense racing also for the country’s top male riders aged over 30 years.

New Plymouth’s 1996 500cc motocross world champion Shayne King, one to watch out for in the 45-49 years’ class this weekend.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

The Kiwi girl was already assured of the individual World title after her victory in the weekend’s first moto at Afyonkarahisar in Turkey but everyone in the compact English team was determined to end the series on a high with yet another moto and overall GP win. And they did it in style, the lone Kawasaki girl grabbing the holeshot to race clear of the chasers at several seconds a lap, celebrating victory by an overwhelming twenty-nine seconds with a classical whip. Courtney completed the individual championship thirty-six points ahead of her closest rival and Kawasaki take the Manufacturers’ title by twenty points. It was their fourth consecutive two-moto-win maximum GP score and the third-in-a-row, an unbeaten run of success, for the incomparable 2020 KX250 which Kawasaki and the DRT crew introduced mid-summer.

Courtney Duncan: “It was so cool to clinch the title and take away the pressure. I had nothing to lose so I just put down the hammer; I had a good flow, could have fun, throw some whips and embrace the moment. What a way to end the series! Nine motos out of ten and four GPs out of five! The whole year has been so amazing. I was in a dark spot last year, in a rut mentally and physically, but Steve took a chance on me and I really gelled with the team and the bike from day one. We committed and we succeeded! I’m having as much fun this year as I did when I started riding way back at seven years of age; that’s so important and it’s what brings results. We switched to the 2020 at Loket in July and the results speak for themselves with six wins from six starts; it’s such a nice bike. I’m just so grateful to my family for all they did to make this possible for me and it’s great to have them here this weekend to share this moment. My thanks too to Kawasaki, DRT, Monster Energy and everybody who has supported me all year.”

The championship double was not only a stunning success for Kawasaki – the fifth title in the history of FIM WMX racing – and for the New Zealander but also for Steve Dixon. The DRT team owner has played a pivotal role in world motocross for more than a quarter of a century with innumerable GP victories, podiums and medals but the 2019 success is his first World title.

Steve Dixon: “The whole season was fantastic. We didn’t run a rider in the WMX for ten years but I heard Courtney was looking for a change; I put it to Steve Guttridge at Kawasaki Motors Europe, he was OK on the idea, so we took it from there. My first job was to work out what had happened to Courtney in the past and put it right. She was so relaxed this year and really gelled with the KX250 from day one. We got the 2020 model with even better performance mid-summer and Courtney really liked it. I think the results speak for themselves because this is a standard bike with an after-market pipe you can buy in the shops and she’s won every race. Courtney has signed for another two years so we can go on from here to even more success. I have had a lot of seconds and thirds in the world, even a Nations victory, in the past and now in my thirtieth year we’ve achieved a World title at last.”

Steve Guttridge (Kawasaki Motors Europe Racing Manager): “We are delighted that together the Dixon Racing team and Courtney have delivered this World title for Kawasaki. The level of racing in the WMX class gets higher every season but with Courtney’s confidence in the KX250 she could display a dominance this season which was a pleasure to watch. We are already looking forward to the challenge of defending the title together in 2020.”

Words and Photos: Kawasaki Europe

It will be three fresh faces fronting up for New Zealand at the Motocross of Nations event at Assen, in The Netherlands, on September 28-29.

Taupo’s Wyatt Chase, Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis and British-based Canterbury rider Dylan Walsh will each be making their MXoN debuts when they wave the silver fern flag at the track built on the infield at the “Cathedral of Speed”, the TT track at Assen.

Chase confirms that he is certainly one man who is fizzing and he said he can’t wait to take on the world’s elite in The Netherlands. The Honda star said he is “thrilled and honoured” to be named to represent New Zealand at this year’s edition of the Motocross of Nations – commonly referred to as “The Olympic Games of Motocross” – and he simply can’t wait to repay the faith that has been shown in him by the selectors.

“It’s simply massive to race at this event. I’ve very excited. It’s an awesome opportunity that I’ve been given,” said the just-turned 20-year-old.

Hundreds of truck-loads of sand will be brought in to create the MXoN track on the infield on the Assen TT road-race circuit, giving the iconic event a unique twist and the energy-sapping sand will certainly sort the men from the boys. A crowd of about 80,000 is expected to flock to watch the racing at this most important event on the international calendar, and Chase knows the pressure to perform will be immense.

“It will be super gnarly at Assen and extremely challenging. But I have been putting in the work and hopefully I can get a good result for the team,” he said.

Taupo’s Wyatt Chase

Chase will race his Honda CRF450 in the MXGP class, while Purvis will race a Yamaha YZ450F in the Open Class and Walsh (Husqvarna TC250) has the MX2 (250cc) class duties for Team New Zealand. Although all three riders are MXoN rookies, they each have plenty of international racing experience.

Purvis raced his way to overall runner-up in the MX Development (under-19) class in Australia earlier this year and Walsh has been racing the MX2 class on the Grand Prix scene in Europe. Chase raced several rounds of the European 125cc Championships in 2016, in the United Kingdom, Italy and Belgium.

Chase confirms his build-up to the MXoN has been going well. He represented the North King Country Motorcycle Club when the annual MXoN fundraiser event – The Battle of the Clubs Motocross – was held at Taupo in June and he won the MX1 class battles that day. There was talk that day that perhaps Chase might be the ideal replacement for national MX1 motocross champion Cody Cooper, a Team New Zealand regular for the MXoN, with the Mount Maunganui-based Honda rider unavailable for the MXoN event this season, and that’s exactly as it’s panned out.

Chase proved unbeatable in two classes at the annual Mercer Sand Prix, north of Huntly, a few weeks ago, taking his Honda CRF250 to dominate the MX2 class, finishing ahead of Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly, and he then also took a Honda CRF450 to clean sweep the MX1 class, finishing ahead of Hamilton’s three-time former MXoN team rider Kayne Lamont.

“I rode both classes at Mercer just to give myself more of a work-out,” Chase explained. “The more time I spend on a bike at the moment, the better for my fitness. I’ve been putting in the hard work and I’m feeling confident. I have been riding in sand as much as I can and I will be heading down to Taikorea (near Himatangi) for some sand training sessions soon too. I feel the experience I have had racing in sand over the years, plus my overseas experience too will certainly help, but I’m not underestimating how tough it will be at the MXoN.”

British-based Canterbury rider Dylan Walsh

New Plymouth’s Shayne King will again co-manage Team New Zealand at the MXoN, sharing the managerial duties with Taupo’s Bevan Weal.

King was the 1996 500cc motocross world champion and a rider for New Zealand at the MXoN many times in the past. He said the race track at Assen would be “brutal” and Kiwi riders should be under no illusions about how tough it will be.

“Every year it’s the toughest motocross event in the world, but the circuit at Assen will be particularly challenging. It’s very deep sand, like nothing New Zealand riders will have encountered before.”

New Zealand has a remarkable record at this most prestigious of motocross events, which typically attracts three-rider teams from 40 countries, the Kiwis having finished third on the podium three separate times – in England in 1998, in Belgium in 2001 and in England again in 2006 – as well as finishing fourth in Belgium in 2003, fourth in France in 2005 and fifth in Austria in 1993.

In all, a Team New Zealand trio has finished among the top 10 on 14 memorable occasions. New Zealand finished 17th overall when the MXoN was held in the United States last year.

All three of the New Zealand team from 2018 – Cody Cooper, Rhys Carter and Hamish Harwood – were unavailable this year because of injuries or for personal reasons.

Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis

Words and Photos: Andy McGechan

Will 2019 be a year of resurrection and redemption for Kiwi battler Courtney Duncan?

For three years in a row, the Otago rider has come agonisingly close to winning the Women’s Motocross World Championships (WMX), only to be cruelly denied on each occasion.

The 23-year-old took two more giant strides towards winning the 2019 edition of the series when she dominated in the Czech Republic in late July and then took two more big steps when she repeated the feat at the following round at Imola, in Italy, three weeks later, again scoring back-to-back wins over the weekend.

This gave her an impressive tally of seven race wins from eight starts in the series thus far. Her only blight was the seventh placing she recorded at the series opener in the Netherlands in March. Duncan flew in from her hometown of Palmerston, near Dunedin, to blitz the qualifying session at the Czech Grand Prix at Loket, registering a time two seconds quicker than the next best WMX rider at the high-profile event.

She then won easily both WMX races on the hard-packed Czech track. Racing this year for the first time for the British-based Bike It DRT Kawasaki Racing Team, she did not return home after the Czech GP, but travelled instead to her team’s UK base and kept training there for the final push.

“There was a big gap between the first few rounds so I went back home after each one but now I will stay in the UK with the team until the end of the series,” she explained.

The flying Kiwi is now a solid 23 points in front of her German rival Larissa Papenmeier (Yamaha) with just one round (two more races) remaining – at Afyon, in Turkey, on September 7-8.

With 25 points on offer for a race win, Duncan’s 23-point advantage means she could possibly wrap up the world crown after the first race in Turkey.

Duncan crossed the finish line a massive 36 seconds ahead of Dutch rider Nancy Van De Ven (Yamaha) in race one in the Czech Republic and then repeated the dose, winning race two by the exact same margin, on this occasion crossing the line ahead of Papenmeier.

Duncan’s dominant performance at Imola, while not quite as stunning – she beat Papenmeier by eight seconds in race one and beat Papenmeier again, this time by just four seconds, in race two – it was still a major achievement.

 

“I was happy to come away from Imola with a maximum 50 points and extend the championship lead heading into the final round,” Duncan said. “My riding was far from my best. I was struggling to find my flow and couldn’t really catch a rhythm until towards the end. I was riding a little cautious in the first few laps with the title in the back of my mind, but when I came back after my slip I saw I could catch up and you don’t say no to a win if it’s on. Getting the wins on tough days makes the victory even sweeter.”

“I’m just so happy for myself and the whole team both here in Europe with (Kawasaki team owner) Steve Dixon and back home in New Zealand; everyone has been working so hard to achieve this success,” she said. “It was really nice to race with the 2020- model bike first the first time at Loket; I tested it a couple of weeks earlier and, after just 10 minutes, I knew it would be the bike I’d love racing. I’m very happy with the refinements Kawasaki have made. It’s a new engine so the power is a lot different, but it’s just so good and I could really feel the difference from my old bike.”

This season is Duncan’s first on the Kawasaki bike and she is well on target now towards emulating the Women’s World Cup successes achieved by fellow Kiwi Katherine Prumm when the Pukekohe girl took her Kawasaki KX250F to finish top in the world in 2006 and again in 2007.

Duncan should probably have already been crowned world champion. For three seasons now, the intrepid Kiwi has had luck abandon her in her hour of need. Twice she was denied the world title through injury and on the other occasion she was the victim of a controversial decision by officials.

Leading the series in 2016, she struck an errant photographer who was standing out on the track at the German  GP, crashed and broke her wrist. In 2017 she was again on target to win the title when a muddy hillside at the final round in France became impossible for the riders and the race was abandoned.

Instead of the race being wound back a lap prior to the stoppage (when Duncan had been leading) and a result declared from that, as normally happens, it was controversially decided to give the title to the French rider who was leading at the moment the race was finally halted, despite so many of the riders by that stage having illegally cut the course to avoid the hill.

Again leading the world series in 2018, she suffered further misfortune, this time injuring her right foot during a non-WMX race between the GPs, ruling her out of the final two GP events.

So, more determined than ever to finally achieve her goal, Duncan this year made the decision to join the Kawasaki outfit.

“They’ve given me an awesome opportunity and I’m very motivated to put them on top in 2019. A fresh start was what I needed and I couldn’t be more excited than to do that with Kawasaki. Kawasaki New Zealand have also come on board to support me at home, for which I am also very thankful.”

2019 WMX Championship top 10 after four of five rounds: 

  1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, KAW), 189 points;
  2. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, YAM), 166 p.;
  3. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 163 p.;
  4. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, YAM), 135 p.;
  5. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), 122 p.;
  6. Lynn Valk (NED, YAM), 120 p.;
  7. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 109 p.;
  8. Anne Borchers (GER, SUZ), 82 p.;
  9. Line Dam (DEN, HON), 81 p.;
  10. Nicky van Wordragen (NED, YAM), 65 p.

Words and Photos: Andy McGechan, Videos: MXGP TV

Team HRC’s Tim Gajser clinched his second MXGP title and the third world title of his Honda career, taking the crown three rounds early after a season filled with multiple moto wins and GP overalls. Needing just 13 points from the first race, Gajser looked to challenge for the win before settling for fifth place on the tricky Imola track, which hosted this MXGP of Italy. As he crossed the line, he knew that the championship was won and he then enjoyed the moment with the rest of Team HRC as they all celebrated another MXGP success, to follow on from the 2016 victory which marked Gajser’s rookie season on the Honda CRF450RW.

With the pressure of the championship off his shoulders for race two, the Slovenian rider was able to rider a bit freer and after a great battle with the rider currently in second in the championship, he was able to get the upper hand and come home in second place and finish third on the day. While he would have loved to have won the overall, the bigger picture was the championship and large number of travelling Slovenian fans made sure he fully enjoyed the moment as he took the gold plate on the podium. Numerous buses of fans made the trip across the border to cheer on their hero and as always Gajser returned the favour by celebrating with as many of them as possible, showing once again that he is a champion on and off the track.

In a season filled with records, Gajser continued his podium streak which now stands at 10 and with three rounds left, he can still become the joint most successful Honda rider in world championship history if were to win those remaining rounds.

Next up is Sweden at the beautiful Uddevalla facility in one week’s time where the Gajser will once again try to put his Honda on the top step of the podium and as he confirms his status as the 2019 MXGP world champion.

Unfortunately Brian Bogers’ weekend came to an early finish as a crash on lap one of the second moto left the Dutch rider with a damaged shoulder. He will now get it assessed by doctors back in Belgium in order to see what the situation will be for Sweden, when qualifying action gets underway on August 31st.

Tim Gajser

It is just an amazing feeling to have won this third world championship. To fight back after two really tough years and to even overcome a difficult round earlier in the year, it is just really, really great to have become champion. A big thanks to all of Team HRC, both here at the races and back in Japan who have supported me throughout this period, during the good and the bad. It is a real family I have under this awning and I am truly thankful to be riding with them for so long. We have all worked extremely hard this year to improve myself and the Honda CRF450RW but it has worked amazingly well. We have had great starts, zero issues, and I just feel really comfortable each time I get on the track, whatever the conditions.
I am struggling to say much more but it really has been an incredible experience and I’m so glad that a lot of fans from Slovenia could come out and witness this moment too. My previous wins have been in the USA, but now to have so much support here at Imola, and just throughout this year is something I am really appreciative of. Thank you to everyone who has been with me on this journey, fans team members, everyone, it means so much to me.

Brian Bogers

Unfortunately the day didn’t go very well as I got 14th in race one. I just couldn’t find a good rhythm and struggled on this tight and technical Imola track. Then in the second moto I had a crash right at the beginning and hit my shoulder pretty hard. I tried to ride for a couple of laps but had to pull off and now I will get back to Belgium in order to get it checked out, to see if I can ride in Sweden or not next weekend.

Marcus Pereira de Freitas

HRC General Manager – MXGP

I am so proud and happy for Tim to have won this MXGP championship. It certainly hasn’t been easy these past couple of years but he never gave up and this title is a reward for all the effort he has put in. From his first victory at Trentino, we knew it was going to be a special year and he just kept up that level of riding which allowed him to win this title with so many rounds left to race. He has now joined an extremely special group of riders in Honda history, winning his third championship with the brand and he fully deserves it. He is a very special talent.
Unfortunately Brian wasn’t able to finish the second moto and he will get checked out as quickly as possible in order to determine the next course of action.

Rider Standings

Pos. Rider Num Nation Points Team
1 GAJSER Tim 243 SLO 689 Team HRC – MXGP
2 SEEWER Jeremy 91 SWI 497 Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team
3 PAULIN Gautier 21 FRA 455 Wilvo Yamaha MXGP
4 TONUS Arnaud 4 SWI 429 Wilvo Yamaha MXGP
5 COLDENHOFF Glenn 259 NDL 421 Standing Construct KTM
6 FEBVRE Romain 461 FRA 380 Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team
7 JASIKONIS Arminas 27 LTU 377 Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing
8 JONASS Pauls 41 LAT 365 Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing
9 VAN HOREBEEK Jeremy 89 BEL 358 Honda SR Motoblouz
10 CAIROLI Antonio 222 ITA 358 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
11 ANSTIE Max 99 GBR 276 Standing Construct KTM
12 MONTICELLI Ivo 128 ITA 232 iFly JK Racing
13 DESALLE Clement 25 BEL 208 Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing
14 BOGERS Brian 189 NDL 198 Team HRC – MXGP
15 LIEBER Julien 33 BEL 184 Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing
16 LEOK Tanel 7 EST 177 A1M Husqvarna
17 SIMPSON Shaun 24 GBR 162 RFX KTM Racing
18 SEARLE Tommy 100 GBR 151 Bike It DRT Kawasaki
19 TIXIER Jordi 911 FRA 136 Team VHR KTM Racing
20 LUPINO Alessandro 77 ITA 131 Gebben V Venrooy Kawasaki
21 STRIJBOS Kevin 22 BEL 89 JWR Yamaha Racing
22 BRYLYAKOV Vsevolod 18 RUS 77 JWR Yamaha Racing
23 PATUREL Benoit 6 FRA 65 Gebben V Venrooy Kawasaki
24 HERLINGS Jeffrey 84 NDL 57 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
25 GOLE Anton 297 SWE 33 iFly JK Racing
26 PETROV Petar 152 BUL 31 Team Honda Red Moto
27 LUSBO Andero 621 EST 29 Wildcard Rider
28 STEWART Lewis 336 AUS 29 Wildcard Rider
29 BERNARDINI Samuele 321 ITA 25 Ghidinelli Racing Team
30 DE WAAL Micha-Boy 34 NDL 23 Jumbo No Fear Vamo Honda Team

Words and Photos: Honda Racing Corporation