dan2702 CAPTION: Tauranga's Brodie Connolly (Husqvarna TC125), was unstoppable on both days of racing at the New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville. dan2703CAPTION: Auckland's Hamish Harwood (KTM 350SX-F), was the winner of the main trophy at the Woodville Grand Prix at Woodville. Photos/Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

By Andy McGechan

It was close to a perfect performance from Auckland's Hamish Harwood at the weekend as he won New Zealand's most prestigious motocross crown.

The KTM rider from Royal Heights was at his scintillating best when he qualified fastest in the premier MX1 class at the weekend's 59th annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville.

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And that was just the taste of things to come, the 24-year-old builder then took his 2020-model KTM 350SX-F to win the first two of three MX1 class races during Sunday's senior programme.

He made a small mistake while leading the third and final MX1 race of the weekend, handing the advantage to visiting Australian rider Kirk Gibbs, but Harwood then took the sensible option of just settling into a rhythm and accepting runner-up spot in that last outing, well aware that he had already done enough to win the title outright.

Gibbs, who had previously raced a KTM bike to win outright at Woodville in 2015, finished the day second overall, with Waitakere's Ethan Martens capturing the third podium position.

"The KTM 350 SX-F is a slightly bigger bike than the one I used to win the national MX2 (250cc) title last year, but we've got the suspension sorted now to how I like it," he said.

"I knew I only needed to finish in the top three in that last race, so when I buried the bike in a soft corner, I lost my lead. The track was quite slippery in places and I didn't need to win, so just rode sensibly to wrap it up.

"I loved the bike ... it's got a smaller engine than the 450cc bikes that my rivals are using, but it had more than enough power for me to go up against them and get the job done.

"It's not going to be easy winning the MX1 class at the up-coming nationals, but I think I have a good shot at it and showed here that we'll be very competitive. I can't thank the CML KTM team and my wife Caydie enough for the work they all do for me."

Auckland's Hamish Harwood (KTM 350SX-F) was the winner of the main trophy at the Woodville Grand Prix at Woodville.
Auckland's Hamish Harwood (KTM 350SX-F) was the winner of the main trophy at the Woodville Grand Prix at Woodville.

If there was a special prize for the rider with the most wins in one weekend, it would probably have to go to Tauranga's Brodie Connolly.

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The 16-year-old was unstoppable, unbeaten in every race he started.

At an age in his racing career when it is permissible to "float" up and down between the junior and senior grades, the Husqvarna rider has grasped at any opportunity to ride, and so he was able to line up in the junior 15-16 years' 125cc class at Woodville on Saturday and then back that up with entry in the senior 125cc class the following day as well.

Connolly took his 2020-model Husqvarna TC125 to win all three junior 15-16 years' 125cc races on Saturday and then completed a hat-trick of wins also in the senior 125cc class on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Palmerston North's James Galpin took his KTM250 to win the novelty river race.

Other class winners in the senior grades on Sunday were Mangakino's Maximus Purvis (MX2); Tauranga's Brodie Connolly (senior 125cc class and Roddy Shirriffs Memorial Trophy winner); Australia's Charli Cannon (women's class) and New Plymouth's Mitch Rowe (Veterans).

Class winners in the junior grades, raced on Saturday, were Auckland's Cobie Bourke (14-16 years' 250cc class); Tauranga's Brodie Connolly (15-16 years' 125cc class); Te Puke's Kyan Loomans (12-14 years' 125cc class); Invercargill's Jack Symon (14-16 years' 85cc class); Waitoki's Cole Davies (12-13 years' 85cc class); Invercargill's Seth Morrow (8-11 years' 85cc class); Tauranga's Levi Townley (8-11 years' 65cc class).

There will be little rest for many of the riders, with the first of four rounds in this year's FOX-sponsored senior New Zealand Motocross Championships kicking off in Balclutha this Sunday.

After Saturday's opening round of the nationals, the competition heads to Rotorua for round two on February 23. Round three is set for Hawke's Bay on March 1, with the fourth and final round in Taupo on March 15.