Team HRC returns to Italy for the fifth round of the 2019 motocross world championships with Tim Gajser, Brian Bogers, and Calvin Vlaanderen all raring to go after what has been an extended break in the series. With the last round on the hard-packed Trentino circuit in Italy, five weeks ago, the schedule now heads to Mantova in the Lombardia for what is a sandier surface for the riders to compete on.

Like the last round, a large number of Slovenian fans are expected to cross the border and cheer on the Honda #243 and after his win in Trentino, Gajser is looking to reward that support with a win at a track that he won on previously in 2016, the last time they held a GP on this circuit. Confidence is certainly high that he can close the gap even further in the championship race and with the Trentino victory under his belt, the plan is to maintain that high level in this next series of events that sees the riders’ race six times in seven weekends.

Brian Bogers is also excited to get back to racing after this break, especially given that it will be at a Mantova track that saw him get his first ever MX2 podium back in 2016. This result, plus his top 10 finish in Trentino at the last round has meant that there is real hope that Bogers can start putting in good finishes in the MXGP class on a regular basis, something that he wasn’t able to do previously due to his injury problems of 2018.

For MX2 rider Calvin Vlaanderen, the break came at a good time as he looked to recover from his fractured fibula which he sustained in timed practice at the MXGP of Trentino. After missing that race, he got the surgery done right away and has used this break to recover as best he could, eventually getting the green light from his doctor to ride yesterday. With just a few days to get back into race shape, Mantova will be a tough assignment, but it is one that Vlaanderen is relishing as he looks to get back the points he missed out on in Trentino.

With races in Portugal and France up next after Mantova, and then Russia, Latvia and Germany following on quickly after them, this is the beginning of a tough stretch for all the riders. However, the Team HRC trio are all coming out of this break with a point to prove and are highly motivated to get their best results possible on their Honda CRF machines. Their timetable starts at 12:30 local time (MX2) and 13:00 (MXGP) on Saturday 11th May, in what seem to be changeable weather conditions in Mantova.

Tim Gajser  243

In this break, I did two Slovenian championship races just to keep me in race shape. I also kept training hard as I know this is important in order to maintain my speed and fitness. I’m just excited to get back to the MXGPs because it feels like a long time since my win in Trentino. However I like the track in Mantova because in the past, I have won the event so it’s nice to go back there and I’m really looking forward to showing what I can do there this year.

Brian Bogers  189

It was good to have a little time away from the races because it is a long and tough season but I still kept working very hard to keep building up my level of fitness and speed. After my second race in Trentino when I got my first top 10, it gave me motivation to continue with what we’ve been doing because I saw that the effort was paying off and we were heading in the right direction. Unfortunately, I had a small crash last week which meant I had to miss the Dutch Championship but everything is fine now and we are back on the bike and I’m really looking forward to racing in Mantova. It was at this track that I had my first podium in 250s so I like the track and I like riding there and I can’t wait for the gate to drop this weekend!

Calvin Vlaanderen  10

It has been a difficult period of time but I am happy to be back on a bike and riding again before this weekend. Obviously, I would have preferred to have a bit more time to get ready but I am glad to have only missed the Trentino round and I am still confident in my ability to ride well in Mantova. Before the injury, my fitness was at a good level and I did as much as I could to maintain that during the break so I just have to do my best to compete for these next few weeks. I want to thank all the members of Team HRC for the support they gave me during this break and I can’t wait to get this next part of the championship underway.

Marcus Pereira de Freitas

HRC General Manager – MXGP

I am extremely excited to get back to the MXGP races after this break. We left the action on such a high with Tim winning in Trentino, so this provided great motivation to everyone to keep that going. Brian also got his first top 10 of the season so he wanted to maintain that level. It was also good for Calvin because this gap in the races meant that he is recovered from his leg injury that he sustained at Trentino and he should be able to compete in Mantova. It’ll be hard work for him because he hasn’t ridden much but he had good fitness before the injury so we are confident he should still be able to pick up points. Of course for Tim, who has previously won here and for Brian, we have high hopes that they can continue their form, and put both Honda’s inside the top 10 and potentially on the podium.

Words and Photos: Honda Racing Corporation

As reported yesterday, Tony Smith from Palmerston North and Gary Smith formerly from Fielding have been competing at The Don Matthews CZ World Championships in Marysville, California, and have successfully concluded the event with a World Title and two class wins between them! Gary won the World CZ 500cc class title in the expert under-50’s class, and Tony won the intermediate class.

Gary, who was riding in two classes, also won the pre-1970 250cc expert class, and also ‘accidentally’ competed in a Legends Race, finishing in a very respectable second place against John Desoto and Gary Jones, to name a few.

The event was a fantastic experience, with the Kiwi boys rubbing shoulders with Jaroslav Falta, Brad Lackey, Mary Tripes, Jim Wilson… and banging bars with some of the best riders in the world. Both Gary and Tony enjoyed the event so much they are already planning return visits to defend their titles! Out of a field of 361 riders, the two Kiwi lads definitely left a lasting impression. Congratulations on the wins from the team here at DRD, you’ve made the whole country very proud.

 

 

 

 

 

Photos by JD Art Wrk, and Gary Smith

 

 

Two New Zealand riders have embarked on an epic journey to America to compete in the 2019 Don Matthews CZ World Championships in Marysville, California, taking place as this goes online (27th/28th April in California).

 

This year marks the centenary of CZ Motorcycles and also includes personal appearances from some huge names in the sport. These include Jaroslav Falta, Zednek Velky, Antonin Baboravsky, Brad Lackey, Mike Chamberlain, Mary McGee, Jim Wilson, Marty Tripes, Gary Jones, Lori Payne, and many more.

Some of the world’s best classic riders have made the pilgrimage to this racing mecca. Nations represented include England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, USA, and of course Team New Zealand.

 

Tony Smith (47) from Palmerston North, races in the New Zealand VMX series regularly on his 1973 CZ 380cc. He is a former Pre75 Open Class Champion and currently Number 2 in both the Pre75 and Pre78 classes.

Teaming up with Tony for Team New Zealand (aka Team Smith) is Gary Smith (47) from Feilding, who now lives in the UK. Gary cut his teeth in the New Zealand championships, 80cc and 125cc classes back in the 80’s and has now turned his attention to racing classic 1971 Greeves 380cc QUB’s and is a 3-time British Greeves Champion. Gary has also raced in the ECMO European Championships in France, Holland, Germany, Sweden, and the Czech Rebublic.

Both riders are racing CZ motorcycles in their respective World Championship Classes on bikes kindly prepared by American Sponsors Rick Nabers and Jim Palmus.

Also on the trip is Gary’s father and former New Zealand Speedway rider Graeme Smith, who is acting as navigator, manager, coach, mechanic, and most importantly bail provider in the event of a run-in with the local police!

Words and Photos: Supplied

Four new champions were crowned at the 2019 New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships near Palmerston North at the weekend.

The sandy course at Himatangi certainly sorted the men from the boys as three days of racing – seven races for each of the championship classes – pushed the young stars to breaking point and beyond at the Lucas Oils and Alpinestars-sponsored event.

Rongotea’s Seth Henson, Manukau’s Cobie Bourke and Tokanui’s Mitchell Weir respectively repeated national title wins, Henson adding the 12-14 years’ 125cc crown to the 11-12 years’ 85cc title he won in 2017, Bourke successfully defending his 14-16 years’ 85cc title and Weir adding the 12-13 years’ 85cc title to the 8-11 years’ 85cc title he won in 2016.

But for Pukekawa’s Jack Dunlop, Tauranga’s Madoc Dixon, Invercargill’s Seth Morrow and Oropi’s Levi Townley it was their first time on top of the podium at a New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships event, although Morrow had previously been a mini motocross champion.

Dunlop was in sensational form in claiming the premier 14-16 years’ 250cc title, winning five of his seven races over the weekend, clinching that trophy ahead of Otautau’s Jack Treloar and Dunedin’s Grason Veitch, while Dixon had more of a battle on his hands in the 15-16 years’ 125cc class, local hero Luka Freemantle giving him plenty to think about before he eventually won the title by just two points from the Palmerston North teenager.

Morrow, only recently recovered from injury, won four of his seven races in the 8-11 years’ 85cc class, winning the title by 11 points from Hamilton’s Jack Coleman.

Townley showed consistency counts as he finished no worse than sixth all weekend and took the new 8-11 years’ 65cc title by 15 points from Auckland’s Jack Ellingham, who rose up from fourth after day one to capture the runner-up spot. This class was a support class only last season, but now elevated to full championship status in 2019.

The event attracted the cream of Kiwi rising stars, with Motorcycling New Zealand motocross commissioner Ray Broad, of Ngatea, commenting that he believed it would be “close to record entry numbers this year”.

“This sand track is one that has to be respected and rewards the riders who have good skills and good fitness too.”

A non-championship support class was run for the female racers, with Motueka’s Roma Edwards winning the 125cc/250cc division and Rotorua’s Ticayla Manson winning the 65cc/150cc division.

The battle-within-a-battle for best club honours was won by the Southland Motorcycle Club, earning them the inaugural Bryan Davidson Memorial Trophy.

Southland scored 474 points over the weekend, edging out the host Manawatu Orion Motorcycle club by just three points, with the Tauranga Motorcycle club finishing third, 20 points further back.

Davidson, a long-time stalwart of the host Manawatu Orion Motorcycle Club, passed away last year. He was well loved and respected by the Kiwi motorcycling community and had held the post of MNZ motocross commissioner.

Motorcycling New Zealand general manager Virginia Henderson said it was “terrific value having the 65cc class and women’s support classes included for the first time this year and it will continue to be our focus”.

Pukekawa’s Jack Dunlop (Yamaha YZ250F), winner of the premier 14-16 years’ 250cc title this season.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

The rising stars of motocross will be out in force for the 2019 New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships near Palmerston North this weekend (April 27-28).

With national titles and trophies to entice them or international careers beckoning for the young elite of New Zealand motocross, the racing is expected to again be of the highest calibre, perhaps forecasting who might become the next New Zealand contender for world championship honours.

Several national junior champions from the past have gone on to record major international successes, individuals such as Cody Cooper, Ben Townley, Josiah Natzke, Maximus Purvis, Dylan Walsh and James Scott.

Hosted by the Manawatu Orion Motorcycle Club and jointly sponsored by Lucas Oils and Alpinestars, this weekend’s event will run over three days, with qualifying early on in the Friday programme.

Racing is at the Flipp’s Track at Himatangi, off Omanuka Road at Oroua Downs. The sandy track there was used for the senior nationals a couple of seasons ago and is a popular venue for regular Manawatu club events.

There are seven races scheduled for each of the various bike and age-group categories and the riders’ hunger for glory will be such that it’s unlikely there will be any crumbs left on the table when the racing winds up on Sunday afternoon.

The event will also incorporate the inaugural Motorcycling New Zealand Interclub Challenge (with the Bryan Davidson Memorial Trophy on offer).

Each club will nominate three riders to represent them in this parallel competition.

Several of last year’s stand-out riders in the premier category – the 14-16 years’ 250cc class – will have graduated to the senior ranks over the past months, meaning it will again be extremely difficult to pick the likely winners this time around.

However, it goes without saying that clear favourite for the premier the 14-16 years’ 250cc class is last year’s winner in this class, Dunedin’s Grason Veitch, back to defend his crown, while riders expected to challenge him this time around include Whanganui’s James Rountree, Pukekawa’s Jack Dunlop and Rangiora’s Korban Paget.

There are several others too who perhaps cry out for attention in one or other of the classes, riders such as Kawerau’s Aaron Colville, Waiuku’s Nate Adams, Tauranga’s Madoc Dixon, Ashburton’s Ben Wall, Pukekawa’s Tyler Brown, Te Puke’s Kyan Loomans, Rangiora’s Cobie Bourke, Palmerston North duo Luka Freemantle and Hunter Miller, Otautau’s Jack Treloar, Ngatea’s Cole Dalley, Rongotea’s Seth Henson, New Plymouth’s Curtis King and Auckland’s Ryan Webley, among others.

On the smaller bikes, it’s worth looking out for riders such as Hamilton brothers Dylan and Nick Westgate, Waitoki’s Cole Davies, Bombay’s Reuben Smith, Invercargill pair Jack Symon and Mitchell Weir, Rongotea’s Rhys Jillings , New Plymouth’s Logan Kerrisk, Cambridge’s Jared Hannon, Darfield’s Tyler Wiremu and Christchurch’s Kase Thoms, to name just a few.

Former motocross world champion Shayne King, from New Plymouth, has two sons lining up to race this weekend and he believes this event can be a “great stepping stone” to senior domestic or even world championship glory in later years.

“New Zealand motocross riders have a great reputation overseas and winning at junior level at home can certainly be a boost to any rider wanting to travel and race abroad,” said King.

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

Rongotea’s Seth Henson (KTM No.411), hoping to turn local track knowledge into valuable points this weekend.