Monday, January 18

RACE FOR THE TITLE HEATS UP

by Andy McGechan
Even a bone-jarring crash could not derail Bay of Plenty’s Ben Townley at the third round of four in this season’s New Zealand Supercross Championships in Tokoroa on Saturday night.
The Tauranga man, still on the comeback from a shoulder injury suffered in America in 2007, remains on target to take his first New Zealand title in nearly 10 years after another scintillating display on the race track, this time at a Tokoroa track made treacherous by persistent drizzle.
The 25-year-old former world motocross champion and US supercross champion crashed heavily while leading the night’s first of three open class races.
He picked himself up to limp home in ninth place and then, with a rapid-fire format in place for the Tokoroa event, he had no time to rest as he was obliged to head straight back to the starting grid for race two.
Despite showing signs of wear from the crash, Townley took his Kawasaki KX450F to the lead from the start and never looked back, clocking up an impressive win.
He repeated the dose for the third and final race that followed immediately after that.
Townley’s 9-1-1 results meant Townley finished the night an unaccustomed third overall, behind Mount Maunganui pair Cody Cooper (Suzuki) and Mason Phillips (Kawasaki), but it was still enough for him to extend his lead in the championship chase to 26 points over his nearest threat, Christchurch Honda rider Justin McDonald.
“I was feeling awesome on the bike. It just gets better and better every time I ride,” said Townley.
“The crash was just one of those things really. A piece of a trackside barrier was sticking out, my foot-peg clipped it and down I went.
“Considering the circumstances (with the crash), I am happy to still finish the night on the podium. In damp and slippery conditions like this, you just have to take what you can."
While most attention was focussed on Townley, there was no denying the incredible pace of fellow Kiwi international Cooper, who, despite having to brave a painful knee injury following his crash at round one, won the night in Tokoroa with 1-3-2 results and leapt from fourth to third equal in the championship standings.
"The way things have been going for me lately, I have to say I'm surprised I won the night. I was sick at round one and then crashed and hurt my knee. Then I got only second placings at round two … but now I've got an overall win to celebrate.
"I struggled a bit tonight because my sore knee has no strength in it. It's all swelled up. I'll just have to see what I can manage at the final round next weekend in Auckland."
The Senior Lites (250cc) class belonged to defending champion Scott Columb (Suzuki), the Queenstown man finishing 2-1-1 on the night to edge out dual-class campaigner Phillips – who took his Kawasaki to 1-2-2 finishes.
Taupo’s Brad Groombridge (Suzuki) was third best on the night and also remains third in the championship standings.
Rangiora’s McGoldrick brothers, Isaiah and Micah, continue to lead the two junior classes.
Isaiah McGoldrick (KTM) won the junior 250cc class at Tokoroa and created a 16-point buffer over nearest challenger Tom Managh (Suzuki), of Wanganui.
Micah McGoldrick topped the podium in the Junior Lites (85cc) class at Tokoroa and stretched his advantage to 21 points over Feilding’s Haki Waller (Kawasaki).
The racing will go down to the wire with the fourth and final round set for Manukau City this coming Saturday night, the land beside the TelstraClear Events Centre turned into a floodlit moonscape for a thrilling climax to the championship.

Leading standings after round three of the New Zealand Supercross Championships at Tokoroa on Saturday night:

Senior open:
1. Ben Townley (Tauranga) 162 points;
2. Justin McDonald (Christchurch) 136;
3= Mason Phillips (Mount Maunganui) 135;
3= Cody Cooper (Mount Maunganui) 135

Senior lites:
1. Scott Columb (Queenstown) 165 points;
2. Mason Phillips (Mount Maunganui) 156;
3. Brad Groombridge (Taupo) 132.

Junior 250cc:
1. Isaiah McGoldrick (Rangiora) 157 points;
2. Tom Managh (Wanganui) 141;
3. Brandon Tipene (Auckland) 125.

Junior lites:
1. Micah McGoldrick (Rangiora) 172 points;
2. Haki Waller (Feilding) 151;
3. Scott Sowry (Pahiatua) 130.

BikesportNZ.com