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Honda riders top the senior motocross rankings

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Andy McGechan,

Honda riders enjoyed a clean sweep of the senior grades at Saturday's big annual fundraiser event for New Zealand's annual Motocross of Nations campaign.

Wyatt Chase (Honda CRF450, racing in the MX1 class), national MX1 champion Cody Cooper (riding a Honda CRF250 in the MX2 class) and veterans' class rider Peter Broxholme (Honda CRF450) dominated their respective races at the weekend's 10th annual Battle of the Clubs (BOTC) motocross in Taupo.

The outstanding form of Cooper and Broxholme advanced their Pukekohe Motorcycle Club team to the top the senior rankings and also ensured it won the event outright, while the unbeaten Chase gave his North King Country Motorcycle Club a massive boost, although his club had to settle in the end for the ranking of eighth best club overall of the 30 that were entered.

The Pukekohe Motorcycle Club finished the event a whopping 39 points clear of the eventual runner-up team, the Manawatu-Orion Motorcycle Club's contingent. The team from the Christchurch Off-Road Motorcycle Club settled for third overall.

The racing went down to the wire, the trophies only decided in the day's final outing - when the MX1 and MX2 riders were on the track together - the lead changing three times, as first Chase, then Christchurch Off-Road Motorcycle Club MX1 rider Justin McDonald (Honda CRF450) and then Cooper took turns at the front, although Chase eventually snatched the lead, with just over a lap remaining, and he held on for the win.

That race ended up with Cooper crossing the finish line 11 seconds behind Chase, with McDonald third and another Honda CRF450 rider in Mosgiel District Motorcycle Club's Sam Cuthbertson - the MX1 class top qualifier - claiming fourth overall.

The Battle of the Clubs (BOTC) motocross event is loosely based on the Motocross of Nations (MXoN), the international "Olympic Games of motocross" that is to be staged in The Netherlands this September.

The domestic BOTC event is vital in terms of financially assisting New Zealand's MXoN campaign and Cooper is one rider in particular who knows just what this all means.

"This BOTC event is really important for our MXoN team effort," said Cooper.

"Every time the Taupo clubs holds this BOTC it seems to be getting bigger and bigger. Some clubs enter two teams. This goes a long way to helping Team NZ get overseas. We are a small country and it's great that everyone gets behind this fundraiser."

Cooper has represented New Zealand at the MXoN on 10 separate occasions in the past, including last year in the United States, but he has declared himself unavailable this time around.

Considering his performances at Taupo on Saturday, perhaps Chase would be an ideal replacement for Cooper in The Netherlands on September 28-29.

"I've been training a lot lately, so was feeling quite confident with my riding," said the 19-year-old Chase.

"I didn't know how my fitness would hold out with me riding the 450. I got a little bit tired near the end of the races, but it was good to get out there and have a play on the 450cc bike."

McDonald, the national MX1 champion in 2009, rides only occasionally these days and the 34-year-old was getting over a stomach bug on Saturday, but his results defied all of that.

McDonald finished second and third in his two outings on Saturday, helping his Christchurch Off-Road Motorcycle Club to achieve a ranking of third overall for the event, behind the Pukekohe and Manawatu-Orion Motorcycle Club teams.

"It's important that we get our Kiwi athletes out there in the world ... Cody Cooper is probably better-known overseas than he is here at home ... and this BOTC event is great for helping New Zealand to get on the world stage," said McDonald.

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