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

West Auckland’s Hamish Harwood (CML Makita KTM 250), top dog in two of the three championship classes after round one of the 2019 Fox New Zealand Motocross Championships.

There are a couple of new gunslingers in town and they mean business.

Raglan motorcyclist Jason Dickey has been tearing up the countryside in recent major cross-country events and his impressive win on steep farmland at Flemington, near Norsewood, on Sunday has set him up now for a potential national title win, with Dickey’s victory at this first of four rounds in the 2019 New Zealand Cross-Country Championship perhaps a forecast of what’s to come.

Despite being a little slow to get off the start line on Sunday, the 24-year-old dairy farmer soon had his 2018-model KTM 350XC-F bike humming.

Dickey quickly moved through the traffic to put himself in a three-way battle for the lead, banging handlebars with fellow KTM rider Sam Brown, from Glen Murray, and Husqvarna rider Reece Lister, from Wairoa.

It was a gruelling battle, the three-hour race taking its toll on several key of the more than 50 riders entered, including Lister, who was forced to withdraw when the pain from an earlier ankle injury became too great.

This left the way clear for Dickey and Brown to engage in a one-on-one battle for the win, Dickey eventually prevailing and crossing the finish line nearly a minute ahead of Brown.

Taupo’s defending national cross-country champion Brad Groombridge had problems too, a long way back in the field after he’d crashed on the opening lap, although he did manage to work his way back up to finish third overall.

This result has shown that Dickey and Brown are both ready to step forward and challenge Groombridge for his title.

“I caught up to the leaders after my bad start but then I went off the track and dropped back a few places again,” Dickey said. “When the leaders pitted I snatched the lead and managed to hold it from there. I didn’t have any real problems, just a couple of lappers holding me up at times. Visibility in the dust wasn’t too much of a problem for me.”

Moving dirt is something that Brown is particularly skilled at, the 28-year-old Brown working as a digger driver during the week, and he was doing that with his KTM 450XC-F at a terrific pace on Sunday:

“I had a pretty good start and was leading the race inside the first lap. But halfway around that first lap I suffered ‘arm pump’ and just had to let Jason (Dickey) and Reece (Lister) go by me. I had a bit of a surge after that and got back into a battle with those guys again. I was in front until I pitted. I nearly ran out of gas. I didn’t think I was going to last the lap. I had a large enough tank that I only needed one fuel stop (for the three-hour race), but it was pretty risky. I caught back up to Jason but then he looked back at me and pulled away again.”

The 90-minute junior race, held earlier in the day, was won by Raglan’s Cody Rooks, followed by Napier’s Bryn Codd and Eltham’s defending junior champion Adam Loveridge.

It is now six weeks until round two of the series, set for Mosgiel on March 24.

NZ Cross Country Championships calendar 2019:
Round One: Sunday, February 10 – Central Hawke’s Bay MCC
Round Two: Sunday, March 24 – Mosgiel District MCC
Round Three: Sunday, April 14 – Marlborough MCC
Round Four: Saturday, May 25 – Taupo MCC

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

Raglan’s Jason Dickey (KTM 350XC-F), outright winner of the senior race on Sunday.

Round six of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross season featured the debut of the 2019 250SX East Championship, and Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing team’s Justin Cooper and Mitchell Oldenburg got off to a good start at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, finishing third and sixth, respectively.

Cooper qualified second overall earlier in the day and finished third in heat 1, but got off to a tough start in Saturday night’s 250SX East main event. The 21-year-old kept his composure throughout the 20-lap event, and it paid off. A couple of riders went down, and Cooper was able to make some well-timed passes, which put the New Yorker in third at the finish for the first podium result of his young career.

His teammate Oldenburg qualified fifth and was the runner-up in heat race 2, but also got pinched off at the start of the Main. The Texan found himself shuffled all the way back to 13th position. Undaunted, Oldenburg used his racecraft along with some fortuitous rider attrition to work himself all the way up to sixth place at the checkers.

The Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing team’s 250SX East riders will be back in action next weekend for round two, which will take place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday, February 16.

Wil Hahn – Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing Team Manager
“Tonight was a solid start for us. We need to be better off the start and the opening laps, but leaving third and sixth… we can build on this and look forward to Dallas!”

Justin Cooper – Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing
“The bike was awesome all day and the team made adjustments to fix anything I was uncomfortable with. I was able to predict exactly what the bike was going to do throughout the race, even with the track conditions getting worse. I had a terrible start, but felt great on the bike the whole main and just had to maintain the race as best I could with all the chaos around me. Everything about the day went smooth except a little first race jitters in the heat race. First podium at my second Supercross race ever… what more is there to say? It’s a great feeling!”

Mitchell Oldenburg – Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing
“Today was decent. Practice went well for me, I felt really comfortable and the bike was working awesome. Tonight though, just wasn’t the best night for me. I didn’t feel that great. Not racing for a year was tough, and it showed tonight. I’m looking forward to building off of this and getting ready for the next few races and Dallas next weekend.”


Bike throttles will be twisted to the stops in the Central Hawke’s Bay region this weekend as the four-round 2019 New Zealand Cross Country Championships blast off.

The nation’s dirt bike elite will converge on farmland at 782 Ahiweka Road, Flemington, about 22 kilometres east of Norsewood, for round one of the series on Sunday (February 10) with all riders knowing a good result is essential if their respective bids for glory are to bear any fruit.

Points from three of the four rounds only are counted towards New Zealand titles in the various categories, with riders to discard their one worst score, but that still doesn’t leave a lot of room for error.

Outright senior winner last season was Taupo’s Brad Groombridge and he will be expected to rate among the favourites again this time around, especially considering his sharp performances at the parallel-but-separate New Zealand Motocross Championships, that series having just completed its opening round in Taranaki last weekend.

Groombridge was solid in his cross-country campaign last season, registering a 1-1-9-2 score-card over the series, and this was easily enough for him to edge out Taupo’s Nathan Tesselaar – who had a 4-3-1-3 score-card for 2018 – for the outright series win, the third consecutive year that Groombridge had taken the title.

Groombridge will of course be chasing title No.4 this year, although he knows to expect tough challenges from rivals such as Coatesville’s Sam Greenslade, Eketahuna’s Charlie Richardson, Titirangi’s Callan May, Hamilton’s Phil Goodwright, Bombay’s Richard Sutton, Stratford’s Josh Hunger, Raglan’s Brandon Given and Napier’s Mackenzie Wiig.

The talent pool is deep in the senior grade, with riders such as Raglan’s Jason Dickey, Te Awamutu’s Daniel White, Stratford’s Karl Roberts, Wairoa’s Reece Lister, Palmerston North’s James Galpin, Whanganui’s Seth Reardon and Cambridge pair Seton Head and Ashton Grey also likely to feature near the front.

In the junior grade, Eltham’s Adam Loveridge will be aiming to hold onto the title he won last year, although Napier’s Bryn Codd, the series leader early on in the 2018 series, will be looking to snatch back the ascendency.

Riders such as Cambridge’s Callum Paterson, Hamilton’s Caleb Richardson, Raglan’s Coby Rooks, Dannevirke’s Ben Paterson and Cambridge’s Michael Henry might have an influence on proceedings too.

“The venue on Sunday is a great track and should be pretty testing,” said Motorcycling New Zealand cross-country commissioner Chris Smyth. “It’s a property we have used in the past and about 25 kilometres in length. It features a bit of everything. It will be physically demanding, with steep rock ridges that will take some concentration from the riders. A few of the rider who were juniors last season may have decided to move up to the senior ranks and we just won’t know which individuals have done that until the day of the race. A few of the other juniors from last year will have remained in the junior ranks ad they are entitled to do that until aged 17, when the jump to senior grade in compulsory.”

The series is supported by The Dirt Guide, Oakley goggles, Bel Ray oils and Michelin tyres.

NZ Cross Country Championships calendar 2019:

Round One: Sunday, February 10 – Central Hawke’s Bay MCC
Round Two: Sunday, March 24 – Mosgiel District MCC
Round Three: Sunday, April 14 – Marlborough MCC
Round Four: Saturday, May 25 – Taupo MCC

Words and Photo by Andy McGechan

For more information on this event, click over to http://motoevents.nz/nz-cross-country-championships-2019/

The number 121 is emblazoned on the front and sides of Cody Cooper’s motorcycle, an unprepossessing digit that hints at nothing more than the fact that he is not the reigning New Zealand Motocross Champion.

But that could be set to change this season as the man from Mount Maunganui launched his bid for top honours in the premier MX1 class at the first of four rounds for the 2019 Fox New Zealand Motocross Championships in Taranaki on Sunday.

Coincidentally, those same digits were also the same ones that could be used to register his results at the Barrett Road Motocross Park, on the outskirts of New Plymouth, Cooper finishing the day with a 2-1-1 score-card, enough to give him a three-point edge over his nearest threat, defending champion Kirk Gibbs.

Australian visitor Gibbs finished the day 1-2-2 to settle for the runner-up position, while Mangakino’s Kayne Lamont chimed in with three third placings and he took the third step on the MX1 podium. Lamont is just nine points behind Gibbs.

Cooper is a six-time former New Zealand MX1 champion and did not take kindly to losing his crown to Gibbs last season, something he is determined to rectify this year, his performance in Taranaki on Sunday certainly setting him on the right path to achieve that.

Cooper is in hot form at the moment – he won the MX1 class at the annual Honda New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville a week ago.

But what Cooper craves most is winning the national title and there is actually still a long way to go before he can relax, with another three tough events (and nine races) to survive in the coming weeks.

“I was trying to tippy-toe around the track today, to not make any mistakes,” said Cooper. “There are parts of this Taranaki track where you can be pushing and feel good and then suddenly it all lets go. As long as I was in the hunt for the title when I left here today I would be happy and I’m actually leading the way, so that’s even better.”

Meanwhile, West Aucklander Hamish Harwood is on target to make it a fourth consecutive MX2 (250cc) class title win this season after he finished 2-2-1 in the three MX2 races on Sunday.

That score-card put him nine points ahead of another visiting Australian, Wilson Todd, while Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis equalled Todd’s points tally, but settled for the third step on the MX2 podium thanks to the count-back rule.

Ironman Harwood also took charge in the 125cc class, winning all three races there on Sunday, with Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly and Ngatea’s Ben Broad completing the 125cc podium.

Harwood is nine points clear of Connolly, with Broad six points further back in third.

The MX2 class battle-within-a-battle for under-19 honours went to Purvis, with Australian Morgan Fogarty and Hamilton’s Reef Wheki rounding out that podium.

Round two of the 2019 Fox New Zealand Motocross Championships is set for Rotorua in just two weeks’ time (on February 17). Round three follows at Pukekohe on February 24 and, finally, the nationals wrap up at Taupo on March 10. 

Round one of the 2019 Fox New Zealand Motocross Championships 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

Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper took top honours in the premier MX1 class after round one of the 2019 Fox New Zealand Motocross Championships at the weekend, ahead of Kirk Gibbs and Kayne Lamont.