If it’s true that you’re only as good as your last race, then Bay of Plenty’s Wyatt Chase in very good indeed.
The 20-year-old from Taupo made his mark on the weekend’s 59th annual Honda-sponsored New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville, winning the final MX2 (250cc) class race and ending the weekend second step on the podium, a perfect warm-up for the New Zealand Motocross Championships that are due to kick off at Balclutha, near Invercargill, this coming Sunday.
Even while the track at Woodville was getting progressively rougher and more treacherous as the day wore on, Chase seemed to be getting faster with each excursion, taking his Honda CRF250 to register a 3-2-1 score-card from his three outings on Sunday.
Those results were good enough to rank him overall runner-up in the class.
Chase was in spectacular form, particularly in winning his last race, and ended the weekend just three points behind the eventual class winner, Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis, and a solid 11 points ahead of the man who had won the MX2 class at the Honda Whakatane Summercross just after Christmas, Mount Maunganui’s Josiah Natzke.
If Chase can keep his momentum building, he may well expect to end up on top of the podium at Balclutha.
“I guess I saved my best until last at Woodville,” Chase smiled.
“I had pretty average start in the first race and had to fight through the pack. Second race wasn’t so bad, but I had the lead straight away in the third race and was able to mange things from there.
“I’ve certainly showed that I have the pace to win races and now I just need to keep the ball rolling on to Balclutha. My fitness is great and the bike is fantastic, so there’s no reason not to believe that I can win at Balclutha too.”
Chase’s Honda team-mate, defending Woodville champion and current national MX1 champion Cody Cooper, from Mount Maunganui, struggled to cope with his unsettling neck injury, sustained in a training session crash two weeks ago.
Cooper was frequently the fastest man out of the starting gate, but his best race result on Sunday was a third placing and he had to settle for fourth overall in this premier grade, just ahead of fellow Honda star Hadleigh Knight, of Taupo.
Auckland’s Hamish Harwood won the MX1 class, ahead of Australian visitor Kirk Gibbs and Waitakere’s Ethan Martens, although Cooper believes another week of recovery will see him line up at Balclutha this coming Sunday in a much healthier condition.
Other class winners in the senior grades on Sunday were Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly (senior 125cc class and Roddy Shirriffs Memorial Trophy winner); Australian Charli Cannon (women’s class); New Plymouth’s Mitch Rowe (Veterans); Palmerston North’s James Galpin (River Race).
Class winners in the junior grades, raced on Saturday, were Auckland’s Cobie Bourke (14-16 years’ 250cc class); Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly (15-16 years’ 125cc class); Te Puke’s Kyan Loomans (12-14 years’ 125cc class); Invercargill’s Jack Symon (14-16 years’ 85cc class); Waitoki’s Cole Davies (12-13 years’ 85cc class); Invercargill’s Seth Morrow (8-11 years’ 85cc class); Tauranga’s Levi Townley (8-11 years’ 65cc class).
Chase is supported by Honda New Zealand, Motul, Alpinestars, 100%, Bell helmets, ChaseWorks Suspension, Dunlop, Akrapovic, Renthal, Twin Air, Matrix, Dr Trim, Hinson, Works Connection, Haan Wheels, Un4seen Decals, Parker’s Beverages, DRC, Vortex, Goodbuzz, Ethika, Skinnies Sunscreen and RynoPower.
Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan