This year’s New Zealand Motocross of Nations squad (from left) co-manager Bevan Weal, with riders Cody Cooper, Hamish Harwood and Rhys Carter, and co-manager Shayne King.

Team New Zealand is ready to take on the rest of the world at the biggest motocross event of the year, being raced in the United States this weekend.

The big annual Motocross of Nations, 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 a talented trio of riders who will represent New Zealand at this season’s 72nd annual edition of the MXoN, set for Red Bud, in Michigan, this Saturday and Sunday (Oct 6-7).

Mount Maunganui pair Cody Cooper (Honda) and Rhys Carter (Yamaha), along with Auckland-based former Takaka man Hamish Harwood (KTM), will fly the Kiwi flag on the race track in the US this weekend, while Taupo businessman Bevan Weal and New Plymouth’s former 500cc motocross world champion Shayne King will share the behind-the-scenes task of managing the Kiwi campaign.

The Kiwi riders 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.

“I think this is one of the best teams we have had in a few years now,” said King, a rider who raced numerous times in the past for New Zealand at the MXoN.

“I mean no disrespect to the teams we have had over the past couple of years, but this year we are a lot better organised and a lot more planning has been done. Bevan and I have worked together very closely on a lot of things. We have also been working to help develop this for the future too.”

Cooper is one rider in particular who should feel right at home in the US this weekend, the Honda rider having been an integral part of nine MXoN campaigns in the past, not to mention the fact that he spent much of this year racing the US nationals, with one round of that series even staged at the same Michigan track.

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 progress to the final stages of the competition on Sunday.

With generous support for this year’s campaign coming from the sport’s governing body here, Motorcycling New Zealand, and from building company Penny Homes, along with massive fundraising undertaken by the Taupo Motorcycle Club with their Battle of the Clubs motocross event in June, the Kiwi contingent leaves this week for the US in a confident mood.

 

Words and photo by Andy McGechan