It’s tough when you’re at the top of your game – everyone has you in their gun sights, wants to shoot you down and take the No.1 spot for themselves.
Bay of Plenty’s six-time former national MX1 champion Cody Cooper can feel the target on his back, although it’s something he’s become accustomed to over the past few years, and he is determined that it will be he who is “firing the bullets” at this year’s Honda New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville, coming this weekend, January 26-27.
Already considered the biggest and most prestigious motocross event on the Kiwi race calendar, the Woodville GP will this year feature an FIM Oceania Challenge, with points accumulated by the various nominated riders competing for the FIM Oceania Challenge Cup. Meanwhile, Mount Maunganui man Cooper has won the main individual title at the Honda-sponsored Woodville GP on two separate occasions in the past, in 2007 and again in 2014, and he has realistic ambitions to make it a third win this season.
He has also won the premier MX1 class at Woodville on several occasions, although the past few years have seen Australian visitors win the event’s namesake feature trophy – Kirk Gibbs taking it in 2015 and Dean Ferris in 2016 and 2017 – and then Hamilton’s Kayne Lamont won it last year. Cooper aims to put an end to those frustrations this weekend.
Cooper has typically moved on after Woodville to win the national MX1 crown and the 35-year-old has plans again to do that again this year, the four-round 2019 New Zealand Motocross Championships kicking off in Taranaki just a week after Woodville, on February 3. But first, there’s the little matter of winning the NZ GP title.
Cooper loves racing at Woodville and his build-up to the event has been going according to plan, with him winning the MX1 class at the Waikato Motocross Championships in November, before going on to dominate the MX1 class at the big annual Summercross event in Whakatane just after Christmas.
Cooper has some huge heavy-hitters lining up against him at Woodville again this year and they too are expected to be faster and fitter than ever before.
Gibbs is back again this season, here for both Woodville and the national championships series that follows, and he is definitely one rider who will be a thorn in Cooper’s side, along with another Australian strong man, Wilson Todd, and a first-time visitor from Switzerland, Ivan Boehlen.
Kiwi internationals such as Lamont, Taupo’s Brad Groombridge, Mount Maunganui’s Rhys Carter, and Takapuna’s Hamish Harwood, to name just a few, have good reason to fancy their chances too. Racing over the two days at Woodville also caters for minis, juniors, women, and veterans, with the novelty river race on Sunday also a major crowd-pleaser.
Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan