Motorsport: Bay riders in rampant form

By Colin Smith


Eight of the nine national class races were won by Bay of Plenty riders at the third round of the NZ Motocross Nationals raced near Pukekohe on Sunday.

Suzuki star Cody Cooper (Papamoa) set the standard with an unbeaten performance in the MX1 (450cc) class while Te Puke's Logan Blackburn, Papamoa's Rhys Carter, Tauranga's Peter Broxholme and Rotorua's Cameron Vaughan also claimed race victories.

Cooper rated his performance at the Harrisville track as perhaps his best-ever ride on the domestic racing scene.

"I think it's the best because it feels like a reward for the effort I've put in," said Cooper.

"It's not that I've worked harder than last year but I'm doing the right work.

"I have the right people helping me do to the right stuff for me. Food, the mental side and the physical side - I'm doing the things that work for me.

"Now I want to go to Taupo [for the final round at Easter] and win again."

Cooper went into the Pukekohe round with a 20-point lead in the series over Australia-based Scotsman Billy MacKenzie. After taking the series lead at the Timaru opener, winning one of the three races, Cooper claimed two wins at Patetonga in round two a fortnight ago and turned the screws on his rivals with three-out-of-three at the much-revamped Pukekohe track.

"The preparation and presentation of the track was really good, especially considering the drought conditions," said Cooper.

MacKenzie (Yamaha) finished second on Sunday ahead of Australian KTM riders Todd Waters and Kirk Gibbs with Hawera's Daryl Hurley (Suzuki) the next best Kiwi in fifth. Cooper leads after three rounds with 214 points from MacKenzie on 183 and Waters with 169.

Cooper's Suzuki teammate Rhys Carter started strongly and won the opening MX2 (250cc) moto but got a bad start in race two and battled back to finish seventh.

He was disappointed with his third ride - to fifth place - and finished fourth overall for the day behind Australian Ryan Marmont (Suzuki), Aucklander Ethan Martens (Yamaha) and defending champ Darryll King (Yamaha) of Hamilton.

"I felt good coming through the field in race two but in race three I didn't put it all together," said Carter.

Carter is third in the championship, trailing Queenstown's Scott Columb (Yamaha) by 27 points and Australian Brock Winston (KTM) by 13.

Tauranga's Peter Broxholme (Honda) became the fifth different winner in the fiercely-contested MX2 contest with a strong ride in the second moto but he crashed early in the final race before recovering to 14th and seventh overall for the day.

It was all BOP podium in the 125cc class with Te Puke's Logan Blackburn (Yamaha) claiming the top step for the first time at a senior national round.

Blackburn won the first two races and moved into the championship lead ahead of Rotorua rival Cameron Vaughan (Yamaha) but then crashed half way through the opening lap of the third moto and fought back to fourth place.

"I'd just got into the lead but I lost in the rollers and had a bit of a crash. I couldn't get up again till everyone had been past and I restarted about 18th," said Blackburn.

"It's good to have won the overall but I could have been leading the championship as well. I'm only four points behind and anything can happen at Taupo."

Vaughan won the third moto and regained the narrow championship lead while 16-year-old KTM rider Aaron Wiltshier (Omokoroa) consolidated his impressive third ranking in the 125cc standings at his first attempt at the senior nationals.

The final round of the MX Nationals is at Taupo's Digger McEwen MX Park on Easter Sunday.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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