After a stunning performance at the latest 2019 New Zealand Motocross Championships round, Mount Maunganui's Cody Cooper looks set to be on track to win his seventh national MX1 motocross title.
The Honda man grabbed the lead in the premier MX1 class at the opening round of four in the 2019 New Zealand Motocross Championships near New Plymouth on February 3, but then had to deal with tough competition from his key rival, visiting Australian Kirk Gibbs, at round two near Rotorua a week ago.
Both men were level at the top of the points table when they met again at Pukekohe's round three on Sunday, when they were difficult to separate on the race track too. The pair swapped first and second position in every one of the series' MX1 class races this season.
When 35-year-old Cooper (Alpinestars Motul Honda CRF450) won the day's opening MX1 race at Pukekohe on Sunday, it gave the Kiwi hero a three-point edge over the Aussie invader.
Cooper won the next race too and so his advantage was boosted to six points.
However, with his tyres fast losing their edge on the slick, hard-packed Pukekohe dirt, Cooper succumbed to pressure from Gibbs and was forced to accept the runner-up spot in race three.
The end result for the weekend is that Cooper is still on top, three points clear of Gibbs, as the competitors head to Taupo for the fourth and final round on March 10.
"I felt good in the last race and put myself in a good position, but I guess I should have put some fresh rubber on the bike. I'm gutted actually. The tyre was good for the first two races, but I should have put a new rear tyre on before that last race," Cooper said.
"Hey, I'm having little problems like this and I'm still leading the series, so I'm happy about that.
"I'm just looking forward to having no problems and getting a clean sweep. I'm looking forward to Taupō.
Meanwhile, West Auckland's Hamish Harwood leads the MX2 (250cc) class from Mangakino's Maximus Purvis and Australian Wilson Todd. Dual class rider Harwood also leads the 125cc class standings after round three at Pukekohe.
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