Tauranga's Ben Townley, 31, announced his return to the Kiwi dirtbike scene in the most emphatic fashion on Thursday evening, as he took three wins from three starts at the New Zealand Supercross Championships at Winton, near Invercargill.

After an up-and-down season of racing the Motocross World Championships earlier this year, former motocross world champion and former United States supercross champion Townley has returned from Europe with his wife and young family to settle back in New Zealand.

He obviously still has an itchy throttle hand and was keen to tackle the Brent Scammell Honda-sponsored event, an integral part of the week-long Burt Munro Challenge festival of motorcycling.

With a Suzuki RM-Z450 on loan to him from Winton Motorcycles, Townley celebrated a hat-trick of wins in the premier grade, the senior open class, humbling Mount Maunganui's national MX1 motocross champion Cody Cooper, Motueka's fellow former GP star Josh Coppins and Mount Maunganui's Rhys Carter in the process.


Townley said he would be "riding only selected events" this season as he settles back into the domestic scene, but he showed he's still got the pace to win at the top level of the sport here.

Cooper had to be content with finishing 3-2-3 as he was locked in a fierce fight with Coppins and Carter for the remaining podium spots.

"It was a great event," said Townley. "The weather was against the organisers all night, but we got racing started late in the afternoon and the crowd certainly seemed to enjoy it.

"Winton Motorcycles were amazing. I only arrived on Wednesday. They were so helpful.

"I've only been on a bike five or six times over the past few weeks, so my fitness is not at its best."

The battle for senior 250cc (lites) class honours was a see-saw battle between Australian visitor Richard Evans and Tauranga-based former Rangiora rider Micah McGoldrick.

They ended up sharing the overall results. Evans scoring 1-3-2 and McGoldrick 2-1-3, although Evans got the nod on the countback rule over McGoldrick.

Balclutha's Madison Latta won the junior 250cc title and Matamata's Brodie Connolly won the junior lites title.

Meanwhile, Ashburton Andrew Rudd coped best with the wet and blustery conditions to win the New Zealand Hill Climb Championships that were staged earlier in the day as part of the Burt Munro festival.

He took his Honda CRF450 motard to clock 51.66secs on his second of three runs to claim both the up to 600cc class and overall fastest time.

Leading final standings after the New Zealand Supercross Championships at Winton:
Senior open: 1. Ben Townley (Tauranga, Suzuki) 60 points (maximum); 2. Cody Cooper (Mount Maunganui, Honda) 47; 3= Josh Coppins (Motueka, Yamaha) and Rhys Carter (Mount Maunganui, Kawasaki) 43.