Suzuki’s Brad Groombridge Strengthens His Position in MX2                                                         

Is there no stopping Taupo’s Brad Groombridge?

That’s possibly the question being asked after the Suzuki man further strengthened his position in two separate national motorcycling competitions held in Hawke’s Bay over the weekend.

Groombridge took his Suzuki RM-Z250 to finish the day third overall in the MX2 (250cc) class at the third round of four in the 2018 New Zealand Motocross Championships at Fernhill on Saturday and then, after cleaning up his muddy gear, he travelled further south to Ormondville to ride his Suzuki RM-Z450 to victory at the second round of four in the 2018 New Zealand Cross-country Championships.

Groombridge finished with a 3-4-5 score-card in his three MX2 motocross races at Fernhill, battling the elite of Australasia as well as extreme mud when rain arrived a third of the way through the event.

This not only earned him third overall for the day, but is also solidified his position in second place for the series standings, with one round remaining, set for his home track at Taupo this coming Saturday (March 24).

Groombridge also raced his 450cc bike in the MX1 class at Fernhill and he is now ninth overall in that category.

Despite the obviously tiring task of racing two classes at the motocross nationals – six races – on Saturday, Groombridge was in total command in the cross-country race at Ormondville 24 hours later.

Groombridge took the lead early in the three-hour senior race on Sunday afternoon and never looked back from there, gradually stretching out his advantage to more than a minute over the day’s eventual runner-up, Raglan rider Jason Dickey (KTM).

Taupo’s Nathan Tesselaar (KTM) finished third overall, barely a bike length behind Dickey.

The 27-year-old Groombridge, who first became national cross-country champion in 2016 and then successfully defended his title last season, has been relentless in his charge towards making it three consecutive national titles this year.

Groombridge also won the muddy cross-country season opener at Huntly last month and, with riders to count points only from three of the four rounds, discarding their worst score, the Suzuki man is already looking unbeatable.

“I got a decent start, took over the lead on the first lap and then just put my head down and opened up a gap,” Groombridge explained.

“My body was feeling a bit sore after the racing the day before and I was riding cautiously at the creek crossings, so that I didn’t tip off the bike or get stuck. But it all worked out in the end.”

After the fourth and final round of the motocross nationals in Taupo this weekend, the multi-talented Groombridge will prepare for another “home” event, with round three of the cross-country nationals set for farmland off Western Bay Road, west of Taupo on April 8. The cross-country nationals wrap up near Mosgiel on May 12.

 

Words and photo by Andy McGechan

 

The National 125 class heads towards turn two at Fernhill, with Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis (No.44) leading from Napier’s Jacob Beal (43), Wairoa’s Tommy Watts (912) and Dunedin’s Grason Veitch (47). Photo by Andy McGechan

Consistency was the buzz word at the third round of four in this season’s New Zealand Motocross Championships in Hawke’s Bay on Saturday.

Australian visitor Kirk Gibbs did not win a single one of the three races that were run in the premier MX1 class, but he did win the round overall and, with that, he also took over the championship lead.

There were three separate race winners in the MX1 class during a day of contrasting weather conditions at Fernhill – Hamilton’s Kayne Lamont winning the dry first race, Rotorua’s John Phillips tasting victory in the muddy second race and then Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper prevailing as the treacherous ruts got even deeper in race three. 

Gibbs finished runner-up each time, his 2-2-2 score-card putting him on the top step of the MX1 podium for the day and also for the series, with just the final round left to run, at Taupo this coming Saturday.

In the No.2 spot at the start of the weekend, Gibbs’ performance saw him turn a nine-point deficit into a six-point advantage, with Lamont posting a disappointing 1-6-10 score-card on Saturday and slipping off the top of the leader-board and into second position.

Defending champion Cooper remains third overall in the series standings, 12 points below Lamont and 18 behind Gibbs. 

In the MX2 (250cc) category, defending champion Hamish Harwood continued his march towards a third consecutive title.

The West Auckland-based former Takaka man has talent to burn, but he was also assisted slightly on Saturday when drama struck for several of his challengers.

Taupo’s Wyatt Chase dropped out while leading race one; Wellington’s Josh Bartosh crashed while leading race two and Australian Jay Wilson had his bike seize while he was leading race three. 

Taupo’s Brad Groombridge finished third overall in the MX2 class on Saturday, behind fast-improving Rangiora rider Micah McGoldrick, and he remains overall runner-up in the championship standings, while McGoldrick has moved up from fifth to third overall.

It is interesting to note that dual-class ironman Harwood also finished the day third overall in the MX1 class and he remains sixth in the MX1 series standings.

In the National 125cc class, the battle continued to rage between Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis and Australian Mason Semmens.

These two riders shared race wins at the weekend and Purvis boosted his advantage slightly and he is now 15 points ahead of Semmens.

There is still so much at stake for all of the riders and Taupo’s Digger McEwen Motocross Park will be the scene for some intense battles this coming weekend.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan

Oparau’s James Scott (KTM 125SX), ready for another crack at the European motocross scene this season. Photo by Andy McGechan

 

Oparau’s James Scott can’t wait for his latest big overseas adventure to begin. 

The 16-year-old Kiwi rising star will board a plane for Belgium at the end of next month, determined to again shake up the motocross scene in Europe.

Scott impressed when he last raced in Europe in 2016, competing in the European 150 Motocross Championships (EMX150), turning a few heads and obviously attracting the attention of all the right people. 

Scott will join the Belgian-based KTM-backed FMX4Ever KTM team, becoming an integral member of what will be a three-rider line-up to contest the European 125cc Motocross Championships (EMX125) this season.

The young KTM rider finished runner-up to Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis in the 15-16 years’ 125cc class at the 2017 New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships last April and, although injured at the start of this year, he is now well on the road to recovery and ready to race again internationally.

Scott’s father, Matthew Scott, said the broken arm he suffered at Woodville in late January meant his son would skip the first two of nine rounds of the EMX125 series, but “he would be back up to speed again” for the rounds that follow.

James Scott has been working his way back to full fitness with help from Olympic BMX rider Kurt Picard, from Tauranga, and Bay of Plenty’s former motocross world champion Ben Townley, who “has been the driving force behind establishing James’ latest campaign”.

Scott will line up for his first 2018 EMX125 race at round three of the series at Kegums, in Latvia, on May 13, followed a week later by round four at Teutschenthal, in Germany. 

Meanwhile, Waikato man Patrick Glidden will travel with Scott to work as his mechanic.

Originally a freestyle motocross team, FMX4Ever recently switched its attention to the mainstream motocross scene, with a prime focus on the EMX125 series. Scott will join with other riders Wannes van de Voorde, Kjell Verbruggen and Spanish 125cc champion Mario Lucas Sanz in forming the 2018 FMX4Ever line-up.

The EMX125 and EMX250 championships are considered a launch pad to full Grand Prix racing and shares the weekend programme with nine of the GP events.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan

We’ve been gearing up and really excited about this year’s NZMX Championship here at DRD HQ. With a longterm test bike courtesy of Suzuki NZ – ZED – and Editor Chris Power getting back into the swing of competition, MX has been in the air all season.

Sadly a spanner has been thrown in the works courtesy of ol’ Mother Nature, with torrential rain and more bad weather on the way hitting the Hawkes Bay, and with it, the site that was to host round 3 of the Championship on Sunday, March 11.

Here’s the full release from the governing body of Moto in NZ, Motorcycling NZ.

NZMX CHAMPIONSHIP – Round 3:

MNZ in consultation with the Hawke’s Bay Motorcycle Club, wishes to advise that due to road closures and flooding in the area with more heavy rain expected in the next 24 – 48 hours, we have had to cancel Round 3 of the NZ Motocross Championship which is to be held this Sunday.

We have taken all considerations into account and this hasn’t been an easy decision to make but feel it is in the best interest of riders, sponsors and the Hawkes Bay Motorcycle Club.

NZMX UPDATE:
Whilst racing has been cancelled for this Sunday we are currently working on an alternative date and will advise within the next 48 hours

 

So that’s a bummer! Spread the news so none of your mates make the trip to the Hawke’s Bay to find a water mess instead of the killer moto action we were looking forward to.

The fourth and final round of the NZMX Championship is scheduled for March 24 at Digger McEwen Motocross Park in Taupo. Cross those fingers for good conditions so we can send the 2018 MX season out with a bang!

Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis (Yamaha), is locked in a tussle for 125cc honours with Australian visitor Mason Semmens. Photo by Andy McGechan

Intense fighting is predicted for the third round of four in this season’s New Zealand Motocross Championships at a relatively new venue at Fernhill, near Hastings, this Sunday (March 11). 

The circuit at Mere Road hosted the junior nationals two years ago, but it has never before hosted the seniors, which means very few riders will be able to claim the advantage of track knowledge and this should ensure some close and exciting racing this weekend.

Hamilton’s Kayne Lamont, West Auckland-based former Takaka rider Hamish Harwood and Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis maintained their respective class leads at round two of the series near Rotorua two weeks ago, but not without a battle or two and they can’t afford to rest on their laurels at Hastings.

Former national MX2 champion Lamont (Yamaha) currently holds a nine-point advantage over Australian Kirk Gibbs (KTM) in the premier MX1 class; Harwood (KTM) has a massive 28-point lead over Taupo’s Brad Groombridge (Suzuki) in the MX2 (250cc) class and Purvis is 12 points ahead of Australian Mason Semmens (KTM) in the 125cc class.

Defending MX2 champion Harwood has been the most dominant of the leading riders and it appears there is nothing anyone can do to slow the progress of the 22-year-old from West Auckland, who has been devastating at both rounds so far.

Just as he had at round one of the series near New Plymouth three weeks earlier, Harwood again dominated the MX2 class at Rotorua, his hat-trick of wins perhaps just “business as usual” now for the defending champion.

With his six wins from six starts in the MX2 class thus far, Harwood looks well on track to make it three national MX2 titles in a row this season.

His team-mate Gibbs also ended his day standing on the podium top step.

Gibbs won the MX1 class at Rotorua, his 1-3-1 score-card over the three races meant he had edged six points closer to series leader Lamont and, with two rounds (and six races) remaining, he’s perhaps well placed to make good his title threat.

Defending national MX1 champion Cody Cooper (Honda), from Mount Maunganui, was second best in the MX1 class at Rotorua after finishing 2-1-4 in the three races and he slips back from second equal (level with Gibbs) after round one to now be ranked third.

Another rider visiting from Australia, 16-year-old Semmens, fought doggedly in the third championship category, the 125cc class, but he was beaten to the chequered flag each time by Purvis.

Rotorua’s Joshua Bourke-Palmer (Yamaha) improved from fourth to third overall in the 125cc class standings after another solid performance at Rotorua, although he is a massive 38 points adrift of Semmens. Bourke-Palmer posted a 5-4-6 score-card at Rotorua.

Wairoa’s Tommy Watts (Husqvarna) finished the day third overall at Rotorua, claiming third place in each of the three races, and this moved him up from an undeserved 10th overall after round one to now be ranked fourth overall in the standings. 

Racing in Hawke’s Bay this weekend, and at the final round in Taupo, will also feature the Under-19’s Cup support class.

For this new competition, riders must be aged between 15 and 19 and racing either a 125cc two-stroke bike or an 250cc four-stroke bike.

This development class is intended to provide an opportunity for the younger riders to experience racing in the senior championships and these riders may also still enter the MX2 and 125cc championship classes.

The nationals wrap up with the fourth and final round at Taupo on Saturday, March 24.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan