Upsets and surprises was the theme of the day’s racing at the first round of four in this season’s New Zealand Motocross Championships in Taranaki on Sunday.

The JT Racing-sponsored series kicked off at the popular Barrett Road Motorcycle Park facility on the outskirts of New Plymouth with a scintillating day of race action where none of the riders who had been widely tipped as title favourites ended up on the top steps of their respective podiums.

Defending MX1 champion Cody Cooper, of Mount Maunganui, had been expected to follow on from his dominant MX1 performance at the New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville a fortnight ago, Rotorua’s Michael Phillips (Honda) had perhaps been expected to do likewise in the MX2 (250cc) class and defending national 125cc champion Josiah Natzke (KTM), of Hamilton, had been tipped to again make the 125cc class his own.

However, after three races on Sunday in each of the championship categories, Queenstown’s Scott Columb (Yamaha) ended up on top of the MX1 class, Australian visitor Jay Wilson (Yamaha) topped the MX2 (250cc) class and Taupo’s Cohen Chase (Yamaha) ruled the 125cc division.

There is still a long way to go with three rounds – nine races – in each class still required to settle the issue, but if anything can be said about this championship chase, it’s impossible to predict.

Sadly, it was a disastrous weekend for a couple of title contenders – Rotorua’s MX2 class hopeful Phillips crashed during the practice and qualifying session earlier in the day and he broke his collarbone.

Taupo’s Wyatt Chase dropped out of the first of the day’s 125cc class races, also with a broken collarbone.

The series now heads to Pleasant Point, near Timaru, for round two in just under two weeks’ time, on February 22.

Round three is set for Rotorua on March 8, with the fourth and final round at Pukekohe on March 15.

Leading results from round one of the New Zealand Motocross Championships in Taranaki on Sunday:

MX1 class: 1. Scott Columb (Queenstown, Yamaha) 70 points; 2. Kirk Gibbs (Australia, KTM) 62; 3. John Phillips (Rotorua, Honda) 55; 4. Cody Cooper (Mount Maunganui, Honda) 49; 5. Kade Mosig (Australia, Yamaha) 48.

MX2 class: 1. Jay Wilson (Australia, Yamaha) 65; 2. Micah McGoldrick (Amberley, Honda) 61; 3. Hamish Harwood (Takaka, KTM) 58; 4. Hayden Kanters (Otorohanga, Yamaha) 48; 5. Campbell King (Brighton, Suzuki) 45.

125cc class: 1. Cohen Chase (Taupo, Yamaha) 67; 2. Josiah Natzke (Hamilton, KTM) 63; 3. Ben Broad (Ngatea, KTM) 62; 4. Kurtis Lilly (Karaka, Husqvarna) 52; 5. Reece Walker (Nelson, Yamaha) 52.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan – www.BikesportNZ.com

Racing in the shadow of Mount Taranaki will be fierce this weekend as some of the nation’s elite motocross riders challenge for the title “King of the Mountain” for 2015.

A slew of former and current national champions will arrive in the Taranaki region on Sunday for the big annual Mach 1 Yamaha-sponsored King of the Mountain (KOM) motocross, all of them capable of challenging for the crown.

What makes this year’s KOM event even more significant is that the venue, the popular Barrett Road Motorcycle Park facility, on the outskirts of New Plymouth, will also be the setting for the opening round of the nationals in just a few weeks’ time, on February 8.

With the big stand-alone New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix set for Woodville the following weekend (January 24-25) and the start of the four-round national championship series less than a month away, Sunday’s racing in Taranaki could be regarded as an ideal opportunity for title hopefuls to make a statement.

“With all these big events close together, the timing is perfect for riders this weekend. It will be a great opportunity for riders to establish a pecking order and to get a few sparks flying early in 2015,” said host Taranaki Motorcycle Club president Steve Holmes.

The entry list for Sunday’s event is already reading like a Who’s Who of New Zealand motocross, with riders coming from as far as Oamaru and Winton in the south, to Whangarei and Warkworth in the north, as well as from overseas, with British rider Rob Holyoak making the KOM his first hit-out on his 2015 tour.

Racing in the shadow of Mount Taranaki will be fierce this weekend as some of the nation’s elite motocross riders challenge for the title “King of the Mountain” for 2015.

A slew of former and current national champions will arrive in the Taranaki region on Sunday for the big annual Mach 1 Yamaha-sponsored King of the Mountain (KOM) motocross, all of them capable of challenging for the crown.

What makes this year’s KOM event even more significant is that the venue, the popular Barrett Road Motorcycle Park facility, on the outskirts of New Plymouth, will also be the setting for the opening round of the nationals in just a few weeks’ time, on February 8.

With the big stand-alone New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix set for Woodville the following weekend (January 24-25) and the start of the four-round national championship series less than a month away, Sunday’s racing in Taranaki could be regarded as an ideal opportunity for title hopefuls to make a statement.

“With all these big events close together, the timing is perfect for riders this weekend. It will be a great opportunity for riders to establish a pecking order and to get a few sparks flying early in 2015,” said host Taranaki Motorcycle Club president Steve Holmes.

The entry list for Sunday’s event is already reading like a Who’s Who of New Zealand motocross, with riders coming from as far as Oamaru and Winton in the south, to Whangarei and Warkworth in the north, as well as from overseas, with British rider Rob Holyoak making the KOM his first hit-out on his 2015 tour.