Motorsport: Third time's a charm for Cooper

By Colin Smith

Papamoa's Cody Cooper has climbed the leaderboard to finish third overall in the Pro Open (450cc) class of the Australian Motocross Nationals.

Cooper (Suzuki RM-Z450) continued his strong form in the second half of the season to claim a trio of third placings during the final round at Coolum on Queensland's Sunshine Coast on Sunday while fellow Kiwi Josh Coppins (Yamaha) clinched the premier title in Australian motocross ahead of his retirement from top-level racing.

The final round saw Coppins finish 1-2-2 in the three races and maintain series lead over Suzuki's Todd Waters who won the final round with a 2-1-1 performance and finished the season 11 points behind Coppins.

Cooper has been gaining ground on third and fourth placed Brad Anderson and Lawson Bopping in recent rounds and began the final round in fifth position.

He overhauled Bopping at Coolum and finished the season equal on points with British Honda star Anderson. Cooper's five moto wins during the season bettered Anderson's two victories in the tie-breaker for third place.

"I'm stoked, the team worked really hard and I did too," Cooper said.

"We switched suspension for the last two rounds and it's been awesome. I've worked hard on my starts and I just really want to thank Motul Pirelli Suzuki."

Cooper's next race will be teamed with Coppins and young Mangakino racer Kayne Lamont - who clinched the Australian Under-19 Development class title at the weekend - in the Kiwi team at the Motocross of Nations at Lommel in Belgium on September 30.

Rotorua's Michael Phillips (Honda) completed his Australian campaign in the Pro Open class with a 12-13-15 scorecard at Coolum and finished the season 14th overall.

In the Pro Lites (250cc) class Papamoa's Rhys Carter (Suzuki) made his third appearance of the Australian season and again showed top-10 pace. He qualified ninth and recorded a 14th, 10th and a non-finish in Coolum.

Issues halt Holder

Time-consuming final stage problems on both days of Rally Gisborne prevented young Mount Maunganui driver David Holder from taking a podium finish at the NZ Rally Championship final last weekend.

In the Saturday morning stages, a close battle developed between Holder and Phil Campbell (Tauranga), both driving Ford Fiesta ST Group N cars.

After three stages Holder - having his first drive in a Fiesta - was 7.9secs ahead of Campbell, who was driving his Fiesta for the last time before upgrading to a new shape Fiesta R2 for the 2013 season.

Later in the day both drivers were part of the dramas in an eventful Gisborne Rally which saw a very high attrition rate.

Campbell's run ended when a rear wheel bearing collapsed and his Fiesta lost a wheel just 3km into the 39km fourth stage.

Holder had climbed to an impressive fifth place overall before losing about three minutes in the final stage of the day with power steering failure.

"About 1km into the stage it felt like we had a puncture so we stopped to change it but the tyres were fine. There was fluid leaking out of a blown power steering line so I drove without power steering - which is harder than you think and meant I had pretty sore arms," said Holder.

Holder completed the first day in eighth place overall and fifth among the drivers contesting the national championship.

Campbell wasn't among the small field of 23 crews that restarted for leg two but his power steering pump was installed in Holder's car, who continued to show impressive pace and went into battle with established Fiesta pace-setter Ben Hunt (Nelson).

"On Sunday I felt more comfortable in the car and we managed to beat Ben on three out of four stages," said Holder.

But the final Waimata Valley stage saw Holder lose nearly 30 minutes.

"We forgot to put fuel in the car at the last service. We got to the start of the stage with the fuel light already on and it ran out at 13km right in front of the TV cameras. We were able to borrow some gas from the sweeper car, take a heap of penalties and still get to the finish.

"It was a challenging rally. It was unreal how many people went off the road and I was pleased to get to the end."

"The Fiesta feels much nicer to drive than my old Toyota Levin and there's still a bit more speed to come," said Holder.

Veteran Brian Green (Palm Nth) driving a Mitsubishi Lancer EvoX won the rally with Fiesta pilot Hunt second.

Masterton's Richard Mason (Subaru) clinched his fourth NZ title by winning on Saturday but was sidelined by gearbox problems on day two.

Frost in hot form

Winter racing is providing valuable feedback about the new BMW S1000RR Superbike being campaigned by Tauranga's M1 Motorsport.

Wellington-based rider Sloan Frost had his second outing on the new bike at Saturday's round of the Manfeild Winter Series and claimed two wins and a second in the Formula 1 class after some close battle with Craig Shirriffs.

"We started the first race from the pitlane because we were still changing some things on the bike and came through from last to finish second," said Frost.

"In race two I had a good battle with Craig and in race three I was able to check out and win by five seconds."

Frost says the 2012 BMW S1000RR is a significant improvement on the older version he rode to third place in the 2011 and 2012 NZ Superbike Champs.

"The electronics are a big improvement with the traction control working really well. The engine has more mid-range power and the combination of the new chassis geometry, the traction control and the mid-range means it's getting its power down really well," Frost said.

Frost has now had four wins from five starts with the new bike in the F1 winter series racing.

His next race outing is the first round of the Auckland club series at Hampton Downs on September 29.

Urwin nears goal

Tauranga paraplegic kart racer Niki Urwin is one step closer to another international opportunity after extending his lead in the Masters category of the Gen-i Kartstars Rotax Challenge of New Zealand on Sunday.

Urwin finished second in the Rotax Max Heavy final at round five of the series in Auckland on Sunday and was the top-placed driver in the Masters (over 32-years) category.

The winner of the Masters series earns one of the four places allocated to New Zealand drivers at the Rotax World Finals in Portugal in late-November, an event that Urwin has previously contested in Italy in 2010.

Urwin holds an 18-point lead going into the final round in Rotorua on September 22-23.

This weekend, Urwin is one of eight New Zealand kart racers competing at the Australian Rotax Nationals in Dubbo, New South Wales.

He will race in the DD2 Masters class.

MX at Tokoroa

Round two of the new Central MX Series, jointly organised by the Rotorua and South Waikato Motorcycle Clubs, is raced this Sunday at the Amisfield track at Tokoroa.

The four-round series then continues at Rotorua on October 7, with the final at Tokoroa on November 4.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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