Woodville still going strong

By Andy McGechan


Motorsport

Fifty two years can be a lifetime in the sporting world.

This is particularly so in a young persons' sport such as motocross, where the average rider's career-span is often less than a half, or even a quarter, of that.

But this year that's exactly what New Zealand's greatest show on turf, the Honda New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville, will be celebrating when the gates drop for racing starting tomorrow.

This enduring two-day event is proud of its "wrinkles" too, well-worn creases and scars in the dirt giving it added character and, as a once-a-year venue only, no particular rider has any special claim or unfair advantage over his or her rivals. It is a working farm for the other 363 days of the year.

Founder of the event is Manawatu Orion Motorcycle Club life member Tim Gibbes, who was a GP motocross racer in Europe in the 1960s.

It was from a fairytale beginning in the 1960s the event has flourished and matured and remarkably, it can list current, former and future world champions among its glittering list of alumni.

The Woodville honour roll over the years reads like a who's who of leading New Zealand motocross talent and also features some of the best riders of the day from Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Sweden, England, Scotland, Wales, the United States and Australia.

The man favoured to win it this time around is a Kiwi international, Tauranga's Ben Townley, the 2004 world motocross and 2007 American supercross champion on something of a winning streak at home this summer.

But he will be up against it with fellow Kiwi internationals Michael Phillips (Bel Ray Honda CRF450), of Rotorua, Mount Maunganui's Cody Cooper (Moto City Suzuki RM-Z450), Christchurch's former Woodville winner Justin McDonald (Bel Ray Honda CRF450) and a host of overseas riders expected to keep him honest.

British rider Alex Snow (JCR Racing Yamaha YZ450F) and Australian pair Todd Waters and Kirk Gibbs (KTM Australia) will also be contenders.

In the MX2 class, look out for Australian Jesse Dobson (Kawasaki) and Britain's Jake Nicholls (KTM) to perform, battling for honours with men such as Taupo's Cameron Dillon (Honda), Mangakino's Kayne Lamont (KTM) and Rotorua's Scotty Canham (Kawasaki).

Woodville now stands alone as the biggest and best motocross in New Zealand, attracting riders the length and breadth of the country as well as overseas and it is perhaps second only in significance to the national championships.

In addition to racing for the senior elite, the Woodville motocross also includes races for minis (riders from as young as age four), juniors, cross-country and enduro riders, veterans and clubman riders, as well as staging the splashy and spectacular "river race" for the enduro and cross-country diehards.

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n2 at 01 Aug 2014 15:45:17 Processing Time: 469ms