Motorsport: Honda welcomes young gun

By Andy McGechan

The standard has been set high but Honda is determined to raise the bar even higher this season.

Bay of Plenty's former world and American champion Ben Townley ran away with the MX1 crown in last year's New Zealand Motocross Championships and he looks well set to push on and make that back-to-back wins this summer.

The 27-year-old dominated the day at the season-opening Labour Weekend Motocross Extravaganza in Taupo over Labour Weekend and then finished the day unbeaten in the MX1 class as he repeated the dose at the Waikato Motocross Championships, near Te Kuiti, just a couple of weeks later.

Fellow Honda star Cam Dillon, of Taupo, joined the party at the Waikato event, winning the MX2 crown, ahead of fellow Honda riders Jesse Wiki and Ryan Thompson.

Townley (Carlton Dry Honda CRF450) and Dillon (Huka Honda CRF250) form the backbone of the factory Honda team - set to make their first official appearance at the big annual Honda Summercross near Whakatane just after Christmas - and they will again be joined by Rotorua's Michael Phillips (Rowlinson Honda CRF450) and Christchurch's Justin McDonald (Timaru Honda CRF450).

Both Phillips and McDonald are former national motocross champions and, although they are determined to reclaim the No 1 spot, they know they will have their work cut out to knock Kiwi international Townley off his perch. All three will be on Honda's new 2013 CRF450, which features a host of upgrades from last year's model, including the addition of KYB's radical new pneumatic spring forks.

An exciting new arrival in the Honda camp this season is multi-time champion Micah McGoldrick, the teenager switching brands a few weeks ago as the reigning national 125cc and under-21 champion embarks on a fresh challenge, to claim the MX2 title.

Blue Wing Honda's Race Team co-ordinator Peter Finlay, of Auckland, said he was happy about the prospects ahead for the team and also by the new signing of Rangiora's McGoldrick.

"Micah is an exciting young talent and we're thrilled to welcome him on board. He has shown real potential in the past when racing in the junior ranks and he's now the current national champion in two senior classes. We can see a bright future ahead for him."

McGoldrick (Timaru Honda CRF250) was similarly upbeat.

"Riding Red. Wow, I am now part of the Bel Ray Honda Dealer Team," McGoldrick said.

"It is a fresh start for the season and it has really boosted my motivation, energy and drive to step it up another notch and take it to the next level. The team from Timaru Honda are more than I could I ask for and, after the first weekend testing, we have the bike working really good - Tom Young is an awesome mechanic."

In their first appearance as Timaru Honda teammates at the weekend, McDonald and McGoldrick dominated the Peter Brown Memorial Motocross near Blenheim, each winning all five races in their respective MX1 and MX2 classes and then going on to finish 1-2 in the day's all-capacities' feature final.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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