Motorcross: Cooper facing tough test

By Andy McGechan -
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Aussie dua sure to push NZ champ

Former national MX2 champion Scotty Columb (Whyteline Kawasaki KX450F) is now a force to be reckoned with in the MX1 class. Photo / McGechan
Former national MX2 champion Scotty Columb (Whyteline Kawasaki KX450F) is now a force to be reckoned with in the MX1 class. Photo / McGechan

The trash talking stops when the start gate drops.

Never a truer word has been spoken and particularly so with the New Zealand Motocross Championships in action tomorrow.

Warm-up events around the country have ensured preparations are complete for the start of the four-round national series, set to kick off at the Backflips Dirt Farm at Pleasant Point just outside Timaru tomorrow.

Rounds will follow at the Flipps track at Himatangi, near Palmerston North, on February 28 and the Rotorua Motorcycle Club's track on March 13, but there's a lot that will happen before any trophies get handed out at the Taupo finale on March 20.

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With the New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville last weekend an ideal litmus test, indications are that Mount Maunganui's national MX1 champion Cody Cooper may have a hard time defending his title against the two Australians who have made the trip this season, Dean Ferris and Todd Waters, while Argentine rider Joaquin Fernandez is also capable of springing a surprise.

There were three different MX1 class race winners at Woodville last weekend — Cooper, Ferris and Waters — so it is anyone's guess who will dominate at Timaru.

That's not to say that Kiwi internationals such as Queenstown's Scott Columb, Taupo's Brad Groombridge, Mount Maunganui's Rhys Carter, Rotorua's Scotty Canham and Takaka's Hamish Harwood won't be a key part of the equation.

The MX2 (250cc) class is bulging with talent too, Harwood's name again popping up, this man a rare dual-class ironman, with Reporoa's Hadleigh Knight, Taupo's Cohen Chase, Te Puke's Logan Blackburn, Mangakino's Kayne Lamont, Cambridge's Trent Collins and Nelson's Reece Walker likely to feature.

Otago's Courtney Duncan shook up the MX2 class at Woodville and she's entered for Timaru as well, but that will be her farewell ride as she heads away shortly to race in Qatar.

Three Australians are entered in the MX2 class — Jed Beaton, Joel Wightman and Jayden Conforto — and, although Beaton and Wightman are first-timers here, they will not be overawed.

Natzke won't be defending his national 125cc class crown, with the MX2 class and international duties taking priority, but this class remains tight with Ngatea's national No3 Ben Broad and Karaka's national No5 Kurtis Lilly expected to be severely tested by Taupo's Wyatt Chase, Feilding's Tony Cvitanovich and Te Aroha's Aaron Manning, to name a few.

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