Motocross pecking order changes at Rotorua
All bets are off now after the dust settled at round two of the 2021 New Zealand Motocross Championships near Rotorua at the weekend.
The series is now at the halfway stage and a couple of potential title winners have revealed themselves, but race fans are only slightly more the wiser as to whom might be claiming the other podium positions this season, a drama-filled second round of four at Rotorua on Sunday prompting a huge rethink for some of the contenders.
West Auckland-based former Takaka man Hamish Harwood (pictured above, photo Andy McGechan) scored a hat-trick of wins on Sunday to strengthen his grip on the premier MX1 crown and Mangakino's Maximus Purvis also finished his day unbeaten at Rotorua, underlining his dominance of the MX2 class.
These two riders have a comfortable cushion now over their respective challengers, but the conflict remains heated in both categories with battles for the lesser positions a long way from being resolved.
Mount Maunganui's Cody Cooper, Taupo's Wyatt Chase, Te Puke's Tyler Steiner, Hamilton's Kayne Lamont and Taupo's Hadleigh Knight were impressive in the MX1 class at Rotorua, while Mount Maunganui's Josiah Natzke, Silverdale-based former Taihape man Hayden Smith, Oparau's James Scott, Napier's Reece Lister and Wellington's Adam Moss caught the fans' attention in the MX2 class.
Uncertainty reigns in the MX125 class after defending champion and hot favourite Brodie Connolly crashed heavily on Sunday and was taken to hospital. The young man from Matamata had been featuring at or near the front in two separate classes – the MX125 class and the MX2 class as well – but his double campaign has now suffered a huge setback.
Tauranga’s Madoc Dixon, Clevedon's Cobie Bourke and another dual class campaigner, Silverdale’s Smith, have stepped up to battle for the MX125 title.
Motorcycling New Zealand motocross commissioner Ray Broad pointed out that the series was still wide open for so many individuals.
"The riders next head to Pukekohe for round three now and that's an entirely different animal, so anything could still happen. No rider can rest on their laurels," he said.
"The sport was under a COVID-19 pandemic cloud early last week, but the host Rotorua Motorcycle Club here really stepped up to reactivate things once the government's restrictions were eased.
"The track at Rotorua was great and not as dusty as might have been anticipated. Fortunately, on Monday and Tuesday, they had some rainfall and the club was able to manage and maintain that. The track was also run in reverse this year, taking away some of the local advantage the 'home' boys might previously have had and all of this contributed to some great race action."
The series now takes a month's break and resumes at Pukekohe on Saturday, March 20, while the final round at Taupo will go ahead the following weekend, on Sunday, March 28.
The New Zealand Motocross Championships are supported by Aon Insurance, Kawasaki New Zealand, Pirelli tyres and Fox apparel.
Senior NZ Motocross Champs points after two of four rounds:
MX1 class: 1. West Auckland's Hamish Harwood, 122 points; 2. Mount Maunganui's Cody Cooper, 106; 3. Taupo's Wyatt Chase, 95.
MX2 class (provisional): 1. Mangakino's Maximus Purvis, 125 points; 2. Mount Maunganui’s Josiah Natzke, 98; 3. Silverdale’s Hayden Smith, 89.
Under-19 class: 1. Otautau’s Jack Treloar, 99 points; 2. Te Aroha’s Luke Van Der Lee, 98; 3. Hamilton’s Nick Westgate, 80.
MX125 class: 1. Tauranga’s Madoc Dixon, 110 points; 2= Clevedon's Cobie Bourke and Silverdale’s Hayden Smith, 107.
MX3 class: 1. Tauranga’s Josh Nijhuis, 75 points; 2= Hamilton’s Darryll King and Whakatane’s Darren Capill, 62.