Injury no obstacle for Cooper in securing third consecutive win

It was three wins in a row for current New Zealand MX1 champion Cody Cooper, who stamped his authority on the premier class at round one of the Fox NZ Motocross champions held in Balclutha on Saturday.

The Mount Maunganui Honda rider was a big "if" on Friday after struggling at the recent New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville with a back injury.

"It felt a lot better on Friday so I had a plan and went for it," he said.

The three wins were a master class by the current champion who easily kept Australian champion Kirk Gibbs (Yamaha) and Kiwis Hamish Harwood (KTM) and Ethan Martens (KAW) at bay throughout each of the three MX1 races.

Gibbs (2-2-3) said it was a tough day racing on the South Otago Motorcycle Club’s Riverside Reserve course.

"The track was very tough and technical, Cody was racing well, now I have to to go home and work on what I need to change before the next round at Rotorua in three weeks."

Harwood (3-3-2) said he enjoyed the close racing in all three races battling Gibbs for position and points.

"The powder berms on the track were just crazy. The last race was hard, I was closely following Gibbs for most of the race but we were caught in up a corner sandwich with a back marker which held Kirk up allowing me through into second," he said.

New Zealand MX1 champion Cody Cooper stamped his authority on the premier class at round one of...
New Zealand MX1 champion Cody Cooper stamped his authority on the premier class at round one of the NZ Motocross championships in Balclutha on Saturday. Photo: John Cosgrove
Cooper will take his 11-point championship lead into the second round of the series to be held in Rotorua on February 23.

Keeping the top elite riders honest all day was Dunedin’s Sam Cuthbertson (Honda), who hoped better fortune could have smiled on him.

While in a solid fourth place in the first race his chain snapped.

"I was easily up to speed with the top guys, and then the chain broke. I needed those points as we head to the North Island rounds," he said.

A bad start in the second race saw him work his way back to sixth as the track started to fill up with ruts and fine sand. Race three for Cuthbertson exemplified a "tough day" on the track.

"I was racing for fourth place with Brad Groombridge (Suzuki) and I thought he had crashed, then later he came past me when I wasn’t expecting him taking fourth off me."

Cuthbertson will be travelling to the North Island confident he can match the speed of those top-echelon riders.

The very technical Balclutha track proved no helping hand for home town champion Madison Latta (Husqvarna) in the very competitive MX2 class.

"I had a good start in race one and was working up from 10th place by the third lap when on a wide corner the very soft berms washed my front out and it bit hard."

The crash threw Latta off the track into a puddle while his bike cartwheeled over the top of him and landed on his back.

Latta picked himself up, carried on and finished 16th out of the 30 strong field.

"Race two was no better as I ran into the back of another rider at the first corner and went down."

Again he put in a good charge and clawed his way back up to finish 12th.

Race three saw another 12th placing.

"It was very good racing out there today, the track was very rough and rutted but it was also very technical.

"I was shattered by the last race. It made the 20-minute long races very tiring. I kept wondering when it would finish as it was a lot longer and harder than my recent super cross races.

"The club had done a really good job setting up the track, so I settled down and just rode my own race, while dad [ex Otago captain David Latta] urged me on from the sidelines."

The MX2 class had three winners on the day. Race one was won by Josiah Natzke, the second race by James Scott and race three by Caleb Ward.

The overall points leader by the end of the day was Natzke, whose consistency means he goes into the next round with a six-point lead over Scott and Maximus Purvis.


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