Motocross: Phillips in late surge for points

Rotorua's John Phillips was one of the biggest improvers at round two of the New Zealand Motocross Championships at Patetonga, near Morrinsville, on Sunday.

The 20-year-old Honda ace took his immaculate Hamilton Honda CRF250 to finish 6-5-3 in his three MX2 (250cc) class races on Sunday, showing improvement as the day progressed.

The performance has propelled him up three spots in the rankings.

With a bit of luck going his way, Phillips could achieve a top-three finish this season, an achievement that will set him up well for another stint of racing in England, Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands later in the year.

Phillips had a tough time of it at the New Zealand series opener near Timaru two weeks ago, when he was just back on the bike a few weeks since his recovery from injury sustained in June last year.

He found himself down in eighth spot overall at the end of the day at Timaru, but he is now positioned fifth in the points standings and just seven points behind the fourth-ranked rider, Waitakere's Ethan Martens.

With the four-round series now at the halfway stage, Phillips is focused on eliminating mistakes from his own riding, while forcing them upon his rivals.

"My starts let me down a lot at Patetonga," said Phillips.

"We had practised starts at home but our concrete start pad has a lot more grip than the one at Patetonga and I couldn't get it together until the last race. I really enjoyed the track and how technical it got.

"I want to make a big shout of thanks to the factory Honda team for letting me come in and pit under their tent, and also to my sponsors, Hamilton Honda, Pirelli, Moto Graphic, Two Brothers Coaching, No Toil, and the (Belgian-based) Dirtbike-Gym race team that I'm joining up with in Europe as soon as I get my visa sorted."

Phillips' elder brother Michael also impressed at Patetonga, bouncing back from the crash he sustained at round one near Timaru to place fourth overall for the day in the MX1 category, not too far behind fulltime professional riders Cody Cooper, of Mount Maunganui, Australian Todd Waters and Scotsman Billy MacKenzie.

Michael Phillips (Bel Ray Rowlinson Honda CRF450) had been last, 21st overall in the MX1 class after the opener, but has remarkably now zipped up to 13th in the championship standings.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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