NZ Insider No.51: The Kiwi Squad
Transmoto’s weekly web-exclusive column, the NZ Insider, penned by Chris Ritchie.
Last weekend, the Queen’s Birthday holiday weekend saw the annual Michael Godfrey Memorial Motocross hosted by the Christchurch Off-Road Motorcycle Club at the Stackhouse’s circuit near Omihi.
The premier MX1 class was won by Yamaha’s Josh Coppins, followed by Ethan Martens (Yamaha), and Justin McDonald (Honda), and the top three in MX2 were Micah Mcgoldrick (Honda), Sam Cuthbertson (Honda), and Cohen Chase (Yamaha).
The inaugural Trent Haywood Memorial trophy was won by Nelson’s Reece Walker (Yamaha), claiming the Junior Feature race victory, marking one year since the tragic loss of our young star, Trent. Club stalwart, Graeme Allan, paid tribute to Trent on the one year anniversary since his passing at the event last year.
Motocross of Nations preparations for Team New Zealand shifted up a gear this week, with the names of the six shortlisted squad members revealed by Motorcycling New Zealand, ahead of this year’s event to be staged at Ernee, France over the weekend of September 26-27.
The squad will then be whittled down to the final team of three over the next few weeks by the selection panel of MNZ Motocross Commissioner, Howard Lilly, commentator, Neil Ritchie, and Team Manager, Mike ‘Big Mac’ McLeod.
The six rider squad announced (in no particular order) consists of Ben Townley, Cody Cooper, Josiah Natzke, Kayne Lamont, and brothers, John and Michael Phillips. All riders have considerable overseas racing experience, and all except Natzke are past members of Team New Zealand at the Motocross of Nations.
BT and Coops are regulars on the 450, so will be vying for either the MX1 or Open class position. The Phillips brothers have chopped and changed between the 250 and 450 in recent years, most recently with John going from 250 to 450, and Mike going 450 to 250, so both could ride either bike in France as in Mike’s case the MXGP Under 23 rule for the MX2 class has been removed from the Motocross of Nations regulations, with age no longer an issue.
Lamont is a 250 specialist, very much at home now on his YZ250F after recovering from injuries suffered earlier this year, and Natzke currently competing in the European EMX125 Championship also has experience on the MX2 machine during his 2015 NZ Motocross Nationals 125cc title defence and his current GP level experience will be ideal preparation for him, should he be selected.
Taupo’s Battle of the Clubs event, now a mainstay on the annual racing calendar, takes place at the end of this month on June 27 at the renowned Digger McEwen Park facility. The event is a fundraiser for the Team New Zealand’s Motocross of Nations campaign to Ernee, France for 2015, and is shaping up to be one of the biggest yet. Some of the club teams have been announced with Tauranga looking to be one of the early favourites.