RE-WATCH THE 2018 NZ MX NATIONALS

Thanks to the brilliance of the interweb and being on the line, you can re-watch all the action from the 2018 New Zealand Motocross Nationals any time you want. Just click the links below and enjoy all over again. 


NZ MX Nationals Round 1 – Taranaki

NZ MX Nationals Round 2 – Rotorua

NZ MX Nationals Round 3 – Hawkes Bay

NZ MX Nationals Round 4 – Taupo

HUSKY RIDER GETS HIS JUST REWARDS

Wairoa’s Tommy Watts (HLR Husqvarna Racing Team TC125), on his way to finishing runner-up in the National 125cc class at this season’s New Zealand Motocross Championships. Photo by Andy McGechan

All the hard work, long hours and dedication to the task have been rewarded for Wairoa motocross racer Tommy Watts.

The 2018 New Zealand Motocross Championships wrapped up with the fourth and final round in Taupo on Saturday and the 16-year-old Watts was thrilled to find himself on the second step of the series podium in the National 125cc class, just 15 points behind Kiwi international and eventual championship winner Maximus Purvis.

Watts had started the day at Taupo in fourth position on the championship table, behind Mangakino’s Purvis, Australian visitor Mason Semmens and Rotorua’s Joshua Bourke-Palmer, but he took his HLR Husqvarna Racing Team TC125 to finish runner-up in each of Saturday’s three 125cc races and that was enough to propel him to the No.2 spot for the series overall.

The hunt for National 125cc class honours was made a little easier for Purvis when Semmens crashed out of the first race on Saturday and he took no further part in the day’s racing, while Bourke-Palmer finished with a 3-3-4 score-card for the day and Watts came on strong with his performance.

“I wanted to get top-five result at least,” said Watts, who obviously surpassed that ambition.

“I wasn’t very happy with getting only 10th overall at round one. I just couldn’t gel with the track that day. But things got better after that.

“Round three at Fernhill was quite good for me, especially when the rain came in. I ride in the mud a lot at the farm with dad. I usually don’t like the Taupo track … well I like it, but it’s not one of my favourites. But it was great for me here today.

“It’s tough for Mason (Semmens) that he crashed out like he did, but that’s motocross sometimes.

“Nobody really knew who I was when I first came into this championship, but maybe they do now. I have only been racing a 125cc bike for eight or nine months now and this was my senior debut.”

A year 12 boarding pupil at Napier Boys’ High School, Watts has been ringing a few warning bells with his motocross racing over the past couple of years and those results have not gone unnoticed.

Last November Watts collected the 2017 Wairoa Junior Sportsperson of the Year award and was then called back to the stage to also collect the night’s top honour, overall Sportsperson of the Year.

The modest Watts would be the first person to say that the plaudits for hard work and long hours go also to the people behind the scenes who helped make it all possible for him – his parents, Bronnie and Graeme, his mechanic Jimmy Ashton, suspension guru Craig Guy, HLR Husqvarna Racing Team manager Howard Lilly and Patrick Stafford, of Husqvarna New Zealand.

Watts will be back next season to race for Husqvarna again at the senior nationals and no doubt he will continue to fulfil the potential he has shown this year.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan

 

Brad Groombridge Strengthens MX2 Position

Suzuki’s Brad Groombridge Strengthens His Position in MX2                                                         

Is there no stopping Taupo’s Brad Groombridge?

That’s possibly the question being asked after the Suzuki man further strengthened his position in two separate national motorcycling competitions held in Hawke’s Bay over the weekend.

Groombridge took his Suzuki RM-Z250 to finish the day third overall in the MX2 (250cc) class at the third round of four in the 2018 New Zealand Motocross Championships at Fernhill on Saturday and then, after cleaning up his muddy gear, he travelled further south to Ormondville to ride his Suzuki RM-Z450 to victory at the second round of four in the 2018 New Zealand Cross-country Championships.

Groombridge finished with a 3-4-5 score-card in his three MX2 motocross races at Fernhill, battling the elite of Australasia as well as extreme mud when rain arrived a third of the way through the event.

This not only earned him third overall for the day, but is also solidified his position in second place for the series standings, with one round remaining, set for his home track at Taupo this coming Saturday (March 24).

Groombridge also raced his 450cc bike in the MX1 class at Fernhill and he is now ninth overall in that category.

Despite the obviously tiring task of racing two classes at the motocross nationals – six races – on Saturday, Groombridge was in total command in the cross-country race at Ormondville 24 hours later.

Groombridge took the lead early in the three-hour senior race on Sunday afternoon and never looked back from there, gradually stretching out his advantage to more than a minute over the day’s eventual runner-up, Raglan rider Jason Dickey (KTM).

Taupo’s Nathan Tesselaar (KTM) finished third overall, barely a bike length behind Dickey.

The 27-year-old Groombridge, who first became national cross-country champion in 2016 and then successfully defended his title last season, has been relentless in his charge towards making it three consecutive national titles this year.

Groombridge also won the muddy cross-country season opener at Huntly last month and, with riders to count points only from three of the four rounds, discarding their worst score, the Suzuki man is already looking unbeatable.

“I got a decent start, took over the lead on the first lap and then just put my head down and opened up a gap,” Groombridge explained.

“My body was feeling a bit sore after the racing the day before and I was riding cautiously at the creek crossings, so that I didn’t tip off the bike or get stuck. But it all worked out in the end.”

After the fourth and final round of the motocross nationals in Taupo this weekend, the multi-talented Groombridge will prepare for another “home” event, with round three of the cross-country nationals set for farmland off Western Bay Road, west of Taupo on April 8. The cross-country nationals wrap up near Mosgiel on May 12.

 

Words and photo by Andy McGechan

 

CONSISTENCY CRUCIAL IN HUNT FOR MOTOCROSS TITLES

The National 125 class heads towards turn two at Fernhill, with Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis (No.44) leading from Napier’s Jacob Beal (43), Wairoa’s Tommy Watts (912) and Dunedin’s Grason Veitch (47). Photo by Andy McGechan

Consistency was the buzz word at the third round of four in this season’s New Zealand Motocross Championships in Hawke’s Bay on Saturday.

Australian visitor Kirk Gibbs did not win a single one of the three races that were run in the premier MX1 class, but he did win the round overall and, with that, he also took over the championship lead.

There were three separate race winners in the MX1 class during a day of contrasting weather conditions at Fernhill – Hamilton’s Kayne Lamont winning the dry first race, Rotorua’s John Phillips tasting victory in the muddy second race and then Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper prevailing as the treacherous ruts got even deeper in race three. 

Gibbs finished runner-up each time, his 2-2-2 score-card putting him on the top step of the MX1 podium for the day and also for the series, with just the final round left to run, at Taupo this coming Saturday.

In the No.2 spot at the start of the weekend, Gibbs’ performance saw him turn a nine-point deficit into a six-point advantage, with Lamont posting a disappointing 1-6-10 score-card on Saturday and slipping off the top of the leader-board and into second position.

Defending champion Cooper remains third overall in the series standings, 12 points below Lamont and 18 behind Gibbs. 

In the MX2 (250cc) category, defending champion Hamish Harwood continued his march towards a third consecutive title.

The West Auckland-based former Takaka man has talent to burn, but he was also assisted slightly on Saturday when drama struck for several of his challengers.

Taupo’s Wyatt Chase dropped out while leading race one; Wellington’s Josh Bartosh crashed while leading race two and Australian Jay Wilson had his bike seize while he was leading race three. 

Taupo’s Brad Groombridge finished third overall in the MX2 class on Saturday, behind fast-improving Rangiora rider Micah McGoldrick, and he remains overall runner-up in the championship standings, while McGoldrick has moved up from fifth to third overall.

It is interesting to note that dual-class ironman Harwood also finished the day third overall in the MX1 class and he remains sixth in the MX1 series standings.

In the National 125cc class, the battle continued to rage between Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis and Australian Mason Semmens.

These two riders shared race wins at the weekend and Purvis boosted his advantage slightly and he is now 15 points ahead of Semmens.

There is still so much at stake for all of the riders and Taupo’s Digger McEwen Motocross Park will be the scene for some intense battles this coming weekend.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan

KTM HERO SET FOR A BIG START IN EUROPE

Oparau’s James Scott (KTM 125SX), ready for another crack at the European motocross scene this season. Photo by Andy McGechan

 

Oparau’s James Scott can’t wait for his latest big overseas adventure to begin. 

The 16-year-old Kiwi rising star will board a plane for Belgium at the end of next month, determined to again shake up the motocross scene in Europe.

Scott impressed when he last raced in Europe in 2016, competing in the European 150 Motocross Championships (EMX150), turning a few heads and obviously attracting the attention of all the right people. 

Scott will join the Belgian-based KTM-backed FMX4Ever KTM team, becoming an integral member of what will be a three-rider line-up to contest the European 125cc Motocross Championships (EMX125) this season.

The young KTM rider finished runner-up to Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis in the 15-16 years’ 125cc class at the 2017 New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships last April and, although injured at the start of this year, he is now well on the road to recovery and ready to race again internationally.

Scott’s father, Matthew Scott, said the broken arm he suffered at Woodville in late January meant his son would skip the first two of nine rounds of the EMX125 series, but “he would be back up to speed again” for the rounds that follow.

James Scott has been working his way back to full fitness with help from Olympic BMX rider Kurt Picard, from Tauranga, and Bay of Plenty’s former motocross world champion Ben Townley, who “has been the driving force behind establishing James’ latest campaign”.

Scott will line up for his first 2018 EMX125 race at round three of the series at Kegums, in Latvia, on May 13, followed a week later by round four at Teutschenthal, in Germany. 

Meanwhile, Waikato man Patrick Glidden will travel with Scott to work as his mechanic.

Originally a freestyle motocross team, FMX4Ever recently switched its attention to the mainstream motocross scene, with a prime focus on the EMX125 series. Scott will join with other riders Wannes van de Voorde, Kjell Verbruggen and Spanish 125cc champion Mario Lucas Sanz in forming the 2018 FMX4Ever line-up.

The EMX125 and EMX250 championships are considered a launch pad to full Grand Prix racing and shares the weekend programme with nine of the GP events.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan