Motocross: Cooper destroys strong field

By Colin Smith

Papamoa's Cody Cooper gave the international opposition a taste of his dust to win the second round of the New Zealand Motocross Nationals at Patetonga on Sunday.

Cooper rode his Suzuki to two wins and then a second place in the final moto at the Thames Valley track to win the day overall ahead of Australian KTM rider Todd Waters and Australia-based Scotsman Billy Mackenzie (Yamaha).

The win boosts Cooper's lead in the MX1 class at the midway point of the nationals to 20 points over Mackenzie.

Tauranga's former world champion Ben Townley (Honda) decided not to ride at Patetonga as he still has bruising from the crash he suffered at the opening round at Timaru a fortnight ago.

In dusty conditions at the Patetonga track, Cooper set the pace in qualifying and set the fastest lap in all three races.

He headed the pack out of the first turn in the opening race but his other starts were not as sharp, and he had to make some passes.

"It was great to come here leading the championship and to extend my lead," said Cooper.

"I'm actually happy that I didn't get good starts all day. I think I proved a point that I can come through past good riders. I even surprised myself passing two guys in one corner.

"It will be good preparation for Australia because you can't always get a good start."

Cooper still wants to refine the front suspension settings on his Suzuki RM-Z450. "The forks still aren't as good as I'd like for the last race when the track ruts up.

"They're a bit too hard and it's a bit of a chain reaction that leads to arm pump and I can't ride with a nice flow."

Cooper is hopeful of finding an improvement when he heads to Australia today to test with the Suzuki team he'll ride for in the Australian Nationals in April.

Waters finished second at Patetonga with Mackenzie taking third and Rotorua's Michael Phillips (Honda) got his series started, after being sidelined by a first round crash at Timaru, to finish fourth.

Auckland rider Ethan Martens (Yamaha) took the MX2 honours with Queenstown's Scott Columb (Yamaha) finishing second to extend his lead in the series.

A lot changed on the MX2 leaderboard with defending champ Darryll King (Yamaha) a non-finisher in race two and a non-starter in race three.

Papamoa's Rhys Carter (Suzuki) started strongly and won the opening moto under pressure from King and a fourth in race two gave him a share of the lead with Columb. But the opening lap of race three saw Carter caught in a pile-up and he had to fight back from 28th to finish 11th.

That put Carter fourth for the day but he moved up to third in the overall standings behind Columb and Australian Brock Winston (KTM).

Honda riders John Phillips (Rotorua) and Peter Broxholme (Tauranga) are now fifth and sixth in the MX2 standings.

The order was also shaken up in the combined 125cc and youth category with first-round winner Courtney Duncan headed to the US this week to train and race, meaning she relinquished her leading position in the series.

Yamaha's teenagers Cameron Vaughan (Rotorua) and Logan Blackburn (Te Puke) have raced clear in the 125cc class. Vaughan posted a 1-1-2 result at Patetonga, while Blackburn's 2-2-1 puts him five points behind in the title race.

The 125cc class is a showcase for the BOP talent coming through the motocross ranks. Tauranga's Aaron Wiltshier (KTM) completed the Patetonga podium and is third at the halfway point of the championship, while Rotorua veteran Cam Negus (Husqvarna) is fourth ahead of Taupo's Cohen Chase (KTM) and Rotorua's Nathan Sharland (KTM).

And although they didn't make the trip to the South Island round, Tauranga's Ryan Metz (KTM) and Kurt Langford (Yamaha) started their national campaign finishing sixth and 10th respectively at Patetonga.

Round three of the MX Nationals are at the Harrisville track near Pukekohe on March 10.

Backflips New Zealand MX Nationals

(After two rounds)

MX1 (450cc): 1 Cody Cooper (Papamoa) Suzuki, 139pts; 2 Billy McKenzie (Scotland) Yamaha, 119pts; 3 Todd Waters (Australia) KTM, 109pts; 4 Kirk Gibbs (Australia) KTM, 102pts; 5= Justin McDonald (Christchurch) Honda and Daryl Hurley (Hawera) Suzuki, 89pts.

MX2 (250cc): 1 Scott Columb (Queenstown) Yamaha, 133pts; 2 Brock Winston (Australia) KTM, 117pts; 3 Rhys Carter (Papamoa) Suzuki, 102pts; 4 Ethan Martens (Auckland) Yamaha, 96pts; 5 John Phillips (Rotorua) Honda, 89pts; 6 Peter Broxholme (Tauranga) Honda, 87pts.

125cc 2-stroke: 1 Cameron Vaughan (Rotorua) Yamaha, 136pts; 2 Logan Blackburn (Te Puke) Yamaha, 131pts; 3 Aaron Wiltshier (Tauranga) KTM, 100pts; 4= Cameron Negus (Rotorua) Husqvarna and Cohen Chase (Taupo) KTM, 89pts; 6 Nathan Sharland (Rotorua) KTM, 76pts.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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