Friday, March 16

COOPER CONFIDENT AHEAD OF TAUPO MX FINAL

Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com

Defending national MX1 motocross champion Cody Cooper has probably already resigned himself to the fact he’ll be handing over his No.1 plate to rival Ben Townley this weekend, but that doesn’t mean he’ll vacate the throne without a fight.

This season’s New Zealand Motocross Championships have been a torrid affair with no quarter expected or granted by any of the title hopefuls in the MX1 (open class), MX2 (250cc) or 125cc categories and, even further down the fields, the racing has been very fierce.

Former world champion Townley has been the most dominant of any of the riders – winning all but one MX1 race in the series thus far – and it really is just a matter of him staying upright and out of trouble at the fourth and final round at Taupo this weekend for him to secure the coveted MX1 crown.

Cooper took the main prize last season but currently finds himself a distant third in the title chase after three rounds, although he enjoys racing on the sand and pumice of Taupo’s Digger McEwen Motocross Park and believes he could spring a surprise or two on Sunday.

“Ben has been riding awesomely this season and he’s hard to keep up with, let alone beat,” said the 28-year-old Cooper.

“But I usually go well at Taupo ... I like the soil there and my bike is going great ... so anything is possible.”

The man most likely to topple Townley is another Kiwi international, Motueka’s Josh Coppins, but he’ll need to win all three MX1 races on Sunday and hope that Townley strikes a few big problems if he is to bridge the gap.

The battle for 125cc honours also looks safe to predict with Amberley’s Micah McGoldrick a solid 29 points ahead of his main rival, Rotorua’s Cameron Vaughan.

With 25 points on offer for a win, McGoldrick has an entire race up his sleeve as he lines up for Sunday’s final three races in the class.

Tauranga’s Logan Blackburn is third in the standings after three rounds, but an equally distant 28 points behind Vaughan.

The MX2 (250cc) class has been the most volatile this season and there is virtually nothing to separate the two key title contenders.

Defending MX2 champion Darryll King, of Hamilton, has a one-point advantage over arch rival Scotty Columb, of Queenstown, but his lead is tenuous and fireworks are certainly promised in the battle between these two men on Sunday.

Third in the rankings is Tauranga’s Peter Broxholme, but he is a distant 42 points behind Columb.