Papamoa's Cody Cooper has fought back from a serious knee injury in mid-2014 to retain No1 status in Kiwi motocross racing.

Cooper clinched his third consecutive MX1 (450cc) national title near Pukekohe on Sunday, wrapping up the series with a race to spare, from Australian Kirk Gibbs.

The four-round nationals has been the focus of Cooper's return to top level racing since a knee reconstruction, which ended his 2014 Australian Championship campaign.

"It was a good weekend. I really focused on the starts and I got three out of three hole shots," said Cooper.

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"Gibbs had a bad first moto so that took the pressure off. I didn't have to ride over my head at any stage and I was able to cruise pretty much."

I'm still building up the last bit of strength in my leg again. It was the most serious injury I've had and it was the longest time I've had off the bike.

Cooper led from start to finish in the opening moto and his lead in the series was stretched to 30 points as Gibbs finished seventh.

Gibbs won the second race but Cooper finished a close second to clinch the title.

That result was repeated in the third moto with Cooper chasing home Gibbs to end the series 24 points clear.

Rotorua's John Phillips (Honda) was third in the championship, ahead of Australian Kade Mosig (Yamaha) and Taupo's Brad Groombridge (Suzuki).

With full fitness regained and a No1 plate on his Honda for another 12 months, Cooper now switches his attention to another Australian programme riding for Honda.

"I feel good going into the Australian Champs," Cooper said.

Cody Cooper rides his Honda through the ruts at Pukekohe on his way to his third consecutive New Zealand MX1 motocross title. Photo/Greg Henderson.
Cody Cooper rides his Honda through the ruts at Pukekohe on his way to his third consecutive New Zealand MX1 motocross title. Photo/Greg Henderson.

"I'm still building up the last bit of strength in my leg again. It was the most serious injury I've had and it was the longest time I've had off the bike.

"The New Zealand series definitely gets the intensity up and lets you know where you are and how the bike is going.

In Australia I have exactly the same package with Penrite Honda Racing. The bike is same, apart from some of the sponsors."

In contrast to the New Zealand series, which packs four rounds into six weekends, the Australian Nationals is a 10-round series running across five months.

The first round at Horsham, Victoria, is on March 29.

But Cooper says the preparation is similar.

"You do the first five rounds and then have a break for a month when you can do some different things with your training," he said.

Australian racer Jay Wilson dominated the MX2 (250cc) title, the Yamaha racer winning all three races at Pukekohe and taking his tally for the series to 11 wins from 12 starts.

Wilson won the title from Takaka's Hamish Harwood (KTM) by a margin of 50 points with Amberley's Micah McGoldrick (Honda) third ahead of Rotorua's Scotty Canham (Kawasaki).

Te Puke's Logan Blackburn (Suzuki) rode to fifth place at the final round and finished the series in sixth position, while Tauranga's Aaron Wiltshier (Honda) - who has made a recent return from a serious foot injury - gained enough points from riding at the last two rounds to finish 16th.


NZ Motocross Champs
Final standings:

MX1 (450cc): Cody Cooper (Papamoa) Honda, 263pts, 1; Kirk Gibbs (Australia) KTM, 239, 2; John Phillips (Rotorua) Honda, 216, 3; Kade Mosig (Australia) Yamaha, 211, 4; Brad Groombridge (Taupo) Suzuki, 182, 5.
MX2 (250cc): Jay Wilson (Australia) Yamaha, 290, 1; Hamish Harwood (Takaka) KTM, 240, 2; Micah McGoldrick (Amberley) Honda, 206, 3; Scotty Canham (Rotorua) Kawasaki, 172, 4; Hadleigh Knight (Reporoa) Husqvarna, 164, 5.
125cc 2-stroke: Josiah Natzke (Hamilton) KTM, 288, 1; Cohen Chase (Taupo) Yamaha, 231, 2; Benjamin Broad (Ngatea) KTM, 227, 3; Courtney Duncan (Palmerston) Yamaha, 225, 4; Kurtis Lilly (Papakura) Husqvarna, 200, 5.