West Auckland’s Hamish Harwood is fighting a war on two fronts again this season and, so far at least, he’s winning them both.
The former Takaka man, who now lives in Royal Heights, Auckland, dominated both the MX2 (250cc) and 125cc classes at the first of four rounds in this year’s Fox New Zealand Motocross Championships in Taranaki just over a week ago and he’ll head to round two near Rotorua this weekend hoping to cement his position in both categories.
The 23-year-old builder had his work cut out in the MX2 class with on-form Mangakino rider Maximus Purvis and current Australian MX2 champion Wilson Todd piling on the pressure, while riders such as Taupo’s Brad Groombridge, Oamaru’s Joel Meikle and Taupo’s Wyatt Chase also challenged.
Harwood has a nine-point advantage over Todd and Purvis in the MX2 class – these two riders settling for equal second after this opening round – and Harwood was even more devastating in the 125cc class.
Harwood scored a hat-trick of wins in the 125cc class in Taranaki, while Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly and Ngatea’s Ben Broad fought over the No.2 position. However, the 125cc class rankings will have a reshuffle at Rotorua on Sunday, with news that Connolly has now sidelined himself following a crash just last weekend.
Meanwhile, the racing in Taranaki was also tight in the MX1 class, with Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper eventually getting the edge over Australian Kirk Gibbs – the man from Queensland the defending New Zealand MX1 champion – and Hamilton-based former Mangakino rider Kayne Lamont.
The 35-year-old Cooper is a six-time former New Zealand MX1 champion and he is determined to win the title back this season. He seems to be on target, but he enjoys only a modest three-point lead over Gibbs at the start of this Sunday’s racing near Rotorua.
Gibbs was the overall winner on the day at the Rotorua track last season, so race fans might expect the action to be fast and furious again this Sunday.
Motorcycling New Zealand motocross commissioner Ray Broad said the championships were shaping up to be a great Kiwi versus Aussie battle.
“We have Cody Cooper battling Kirk Gibbs in the MX1 class and Hamish Harwood battling Wilson Todd in the MX2 class and I think this weekend at Rotorua is going to be a pivotal event,” he said. “I hope the spectators take advantage of the great weather that’s forecast for Sunday and they turn out in numbers. The under-19 category is also included in the programme for Rotorua and this new initiative offers additional reward for the younger riders in the MX2 class.”
Round three of the 2019 Fox New Zealand Motocross Championships is set for Pukekohe on February 24 and, finally, the nationals wrap up at Taupo on March 10.
Round one of the series was additionally supported by Mach 1 Yamaha, while Patterson O’Connor Motorcycles supports round two, Ebbett Pukekohe supports round three and Yamalube supports round four.
Words and Photo by Andy McGechan