The Motocross of Nations lives up to its billing each year as the biggest and best dirt bike spectacle on the planet and this weekend it is England that will host this massive teams’ racing event, including a strong squad of riders from New Zealand.
The Motocross of Nations (MXoN), widely referred to as “The Olympic Games of Motocross”, is a one-weekend affair that brings together the word’s elite for an event where the racers put aside the past season’s bitter rivalries and unite instead along different battle lines, with three-rider teams formed to fly the flags of their respective homelands.
And it will be the same talented trio of riders who raced for New Zealand at this event in Italy last year who again line up in Kiwi colours at this season’s 71st annual edition of the MXoN, set for the Matterley Basin GP circuit, on the outskirts of Winchester, this Saturday and Sunday (Sept 30-Oct 1).
Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper (Honda), Takaka’s Hamish Harwood (KTM) and Tauranga’s Josiah Natzke (KTM) will fly the Kiwi flag on the race track in the UK this weekend, while Taupo businessman Bevan Weal will take care of managing the campaign from behind the scenes.
These Kiwis have done this all before and so they already know it won’t be easy facing the world’s elite on such a massive stage, but each of them is determined to put on another good showing, hopefully to improve upon their 17th overall placing at the MXoN last September.
The three-rider teams from more than 35 countries are glittering with the biggest names in the sport, including riders from both the United States national championships scene and the predominantly European-based World Motocross Championships.
From rookie first-timers in 1984 to top-10 regulars just over 10 years later, Kiwi motocross riders have boxed well above their weight and often rated among some of the best in the world.
Cooper is one rider in particular who should feel right at home in the UK this weekend, the Honda rider having been an integral part of eight MXoN campaigns in the past.
His wealth of experience could be the difference between the team earning a top 10 result this weekend or failing to qualify among the 20 countries that will reach the final stages of the competition on Sunday.
A top 10 result would be considered a massive achievement for the New Zealanders, especially considering the Kiwis have one of the smallest populations and have the furthest to travel.