Sunday, March 27

COOPER SNATCHES NATIONAL CROWN

Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper (Suzuki),
crowned national MX1 Champion
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

It was not easy, though, and the racing went down to the wire at the fourth and final round of this season’s Demon Energy New Zealand Motocross Championships near New Plymouth on Sunday.

The Suzuki ace from the Bay of Plenty came up just two points short last season, but this time Cooper was not to be denied, even if the field lining up against him this time was tougher than before, one of the strongest ever witnessed on the New Zealand domestic motocross scene.

Motueka’s Josh Coppins (Yamaha), back home in New Zealand after signing off a 15-year career racing the world championships in Europe, and fellow Kiwi internationals Michael Phillips (Honda), of Rotorua, and Mason Phillips (Kawasaki), of Mount Maunganui -- not to mention defending national champion Justin McDonald (Honda), of Christchurch – all added clout to this season’s MX1 (open class) championship.

An ankle injury sustained while chasing Cooper to the chequered flag in race one on Sunday turned out to be serious enough for Coppins to withdraw before the last race of the day, confirming Cooper as the new champ.

In the MX2 (250cc) class, it was a fairytale finish for Waikato’s Darryll King (Yamaha), the 42-year-old former world championship campaigner who had supposedly retired from all levels of competition about three years ago.

In the end, King finished 1-4-1 in Taranaki to beat McCoy by just four points – McCoy coming home 3-2-3 on Sunday -- with another young Australian, Honda’s Cody Mackie, taking third spot overall in the championship.

Meanwhile, in the 125cc and under-21 years’ classes, raced concurrently but scored separately, Waitakere’s Ethan Martens (Yamaha) was simply too strong, finishing 3-1-1 on Sunday to easily wrap up both titles.

Final leading standings in the 2011 Demon Energy New Zealand Motocross Championships:

MX1 class: 1. Cody Cooper (Mount Maunganui) 277 points; 2. Josh Coppins (Motueka) 245; 3. Michael Phillips (Rotorua) 234.

MX2 class: 1. Darryll King (Hamilton) 249 points; 2. Daniel McCoy (Australia) 245; 3. Cody Mackie (Australia) 214.

125cc class: 1. Ethan Martens (Waitakere) 281 points; 2. Scott Barr-Smith (Tauranga) 234; 3. Tom Managh (Wanganui) 201.

Under-21 class: 1. Martens 285 points; 2. Barr-Smith 241; 3. Managh 215.