Bay of Plenty riders made a winning start to the 2020 New Zealand Motocross Championship in the deep south at weekend.
In the MX1 class defending champion, Mount Maunganui's Cody Cooper rode to three wins from three starts on his Honda CRF450 at Balclutha's Riverside Reserve that was hosting a national round for the first time.
The nearest challenger to the Kiwi champ was Yamaha's Australian team leader Kirk Gibbs who recorded a 2-2-3 effort at Balclutha fighting back from several poor starts. Gibbs traded the podium finishes with reigning MX2 champion Hamish Harwood (KTM) of Takaka.
Cooper leads the MX1 class with 75 points from Gibbs on 64 and Harwood on 62.
Predictions suggested MX2 would provide the closest competition and that proved to be case with Mount Maunganui's Josiah Natzke (Kawasaki), Oparau's James Scott (KTM) and Australian Caleb Ward (KTM) each taking a victory.
Natzke's 1-3-4 effort at Balclutha puts him atop the leader board on 63 points from Scott on 57, Mangakino's Maximus Purvis (Yamaha) on 56 and Australia's Morgan Fogarty (Husqvarna) next with 47.
Christchurch rider Dylan Walsh (Yamaha) and Taupō's Wyatt Chase (Honda) also figured among the podium finishers but Walsh's hopes of an overall result were dented by a flat tyre in the opening moto.
Tauranga's Brodie Connolly completely dominated the 125cc 2-stroke class. The 16-year-old rode his Husqvarna to winning margins of 45secs, 58secs and 54secs respectively in the three races for a perfect opening round scorecard.
Firmly established in second place with three runner-up finishes is Tauranga's Madoc Dixon (KTM).
The second round of the FOX Motocross Nationals will be hosted by the Rotorua Motorcycle Club at its Highway 30 (Horohoro) track on Sunday February 23. The series then moves to Hawke's Bay for round three on March 1 with the final at Taupo on March 15.
Fox New Zealand Motocross Championship (after round 1):
MX1 (450cc): 1 Cody Cooper (Mt Maunganui) Honda, 75pts; 2 Kirk Gibbs (Australia) Yamaha, 64pts; 3 Hamish Harwood (Takaka) KTM, 62pts; 4 Ethan Martens (Auckland) Kawasaki, 46pts; 5 Brad Groombridge (Taupo) Suzuki, 43pts.
MX2 (250cc): 1 Josiah Natzke (Mt Maunganui) Kawasaki, 63pts; 2 James Scott (Oparau) KTM, 57pts; 3 Maximus Purvis (Mangakino) Yamaha, 56pts; 4 Morgan Fogarty (Australia) KTM, 47pts; 5 Dylan Walsh (Christchurch) Yamaha, 44pts.
125cc 2-stroke: 1 Brodie Connolly (Tauranga) Husqvarna, 75pts; 2 Madoc Dixon (Tauranga) KTM, 66pts; 3 Marshall Phillips (Christchurch) Yamaha, 54pts; 4 Zac Jillings (Rongotea) KTM, 48pts; 5 Ben Wall (Ashburton) KTM, 42pts.