CAPTION: Waikato’s Josiah Natzke (KTM), pictured here successfully defending his New Zealand crown earlier this year, is now fourth in the European motocross EMX125 standings.

APRIL 27, 2015: New Zealand’s Josiah Natzke is on the way up in the world.

He raced his CMR Red Bull KTM 125 to back-to-back senior national title wins in New Zealand in 2014 and again this season and that was just the beginning as his international career now takes off in the motocross hot-bed of Europe.

Although he could not manage another podium finish, as he had at the opening round of this year’s European 125cc Motocross Championships (EMX125) in Italy a week ago, the KTM rider did manage to improve upon his championship rankings with another solid display at round two of the series in the Netherlands at the weekend.

The New Zealand champion battled fiercely at the circuit at Valkenswaard on Saturday and Sunday, finishing 12th and 10th in his two races, which was good enough for him to claim 10th overall for the GP.

It was also sufficient for the 16-year-old from Hamilton to move up one position in the championship standings and he is now ranked fourth in the EMX125 class rankings.

“It was a tough weekend in Valkenswaard, but I gave it my all in both motos and pushed until the chequered flag,” Natzke.

He said the competition is fierce, with a large number of riders capable of winning.

The positive is that Natzke knows he has the speed of the fastest riders, and it’s just a complete performance that is required to get on the podium.

“I had never heard of some of these riders before and they were super fast, but I know I can certainly hold the pace up front.

“There is lots to learn from and put in the memory bank. Thanks to the people behind me supporting me all weekend.”

Finnish KTM rider Miro Sihvonen won the day overall at Valkenswaard, finishing runner-up in the first race and then winning the next, sharing the day’s points with Spanish KTM rider Jorge Prado Garcia, who finished 1-2.

However, Prado Garcia lost out on the count-back rule for the overall GP glory.

Prado Garcia does now lead the series overall, one point ahead of Sihvonen, with French Yamaha rider Maxime Renaux, the leader after round one, now slipping to third in the championship standings, seven points behind the two KTM riders.

The next round of the EMX125 championships is set for Talavera, in Spain, on May 10.

The eight-round series then heads to the Matterley, near Winchester, in southern England,  on May 24, with rounds to follow in France (Villars sous Ecot, May 31), Italy (Maggiora, June 14), Belgium (Lommel, August 2) and, finally, back in The Netherlands (at Assen on August 30).

Natzke is racing for the KTM Factory Juniors team, which is led by Belgian 10-time motocross world champion Stefan Everts.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan,