Monday, March 11

COOPER HEADS MX STATUS QUO

The status quo in New Zealand motocross has been maintained, but only just.

Mount Maunganui's Cody Cooper, Queenstown's Scotty Columb and Rotorua's Cameron Vaughan still lead their respective classes in this season's New Zealand Motocross Championships, but points certainly got a shake-up during the third round of four in the series at the Harrisville circuit, near Pukekohe, on Sunday.

Cooper (Suzuki) was the only rider to finish the day untroubled as he scored a hat-trick of wins in the premier MX1 class, pushing his lead in the class out to a massive 31 points over Scottish former Grand Prix motocross star Billy MacKenzie (Yamaha).

Cooper now heads to the final round of the Backflips Clothing-sponsored series, at Taupo in two weeks' time, with perhaps very little to worry about, but that won't stop him pushing for wins to wrap up the championship in style.

In the MX2 class, an injured Columb (Yamaha) had a tough day, managing just 4-6-4 results in his three MX2 (250cc) class races.

But, fortunately for Columb, it wasn't a great day for his main rival either, Australian first-time visitor to New Zealand Brock Winston (KTM).

Winston finished 6-4-3 in his three outings on Sunday, enough to end the day marginally ahead of Columb but he only reduced the championship deficit by two points and it will take a huge dose of luck at Taupo in a fortnight if he is to snatch away the Kiwi crown.

The day's winner in the MX2 class was another Australian, Suzuki's Ryan Marmont - who managed 8-2-1 results on Sunday - but this was his debut appearance in the series and so he therefore has mathematically no chance of winning the title.

Meanwhile, in the 125cc class, Vaughan (Yamaha) had an up and down day, finishing third in both the day's early races as his main rival, Te Puke's Logan Blackburn (Yamaha) raced to victory and took over the championship lead.

But Vaughan struck back in race three, winning it in style as Blackburn struggled to fight through traffic and settle for fifth, promptly handing the championship lead straight back to Vaughan.Just four points now separate these two young men as they head to Taupo and this class is one that will go down to the wire.

Leading standings after the third round of four of the New Zealand Motocross Championships at Pukekohe on Sunday:

MX1 class:
1. Cody Cooper (Mount Maunganui, Suzuki) 214 points;
2. Billy MacKenzie (Scotland, Yamaha) 183
3. Todd Waters (Australia, KTM) 169;
4. Kirk Gibbs (Australia KTM) 158;
5. Daryl Hurley (Hawera, Suzuki) 138.

MX2 class:
1. Scott Columb (Queenstown, Yamaha) 184;
2. Brock Winston (Australia, KTM) 170;
3. Rhys Carter (Mount Maunganui, Suzuki) 157;
4. Ethan Martens (Waitakere, Yamaha) 153;
5. Darryll King (Hamilton, Yamaha) 142.

125cc class:
1. Cameron Vaughan (Rotorua, Yamaha) 201;
2. Logan Blackburn (Te Puke, Yamaha) 197;
3. Aaron Wiltshier (Tauranga, KTM) 159;
4. Cohen Chase (Taupo, KTM) 136;
5. Cam Negus (Rotorua, Husqvarna) 132.
CAPTION: Suzuki rider Cody Cooper. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com