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CAPTION: Australian rider Kirk Gibbs (Yamaha), on the charge at Rotorua on Sunday. Photo by Andy McGechan,

FEBRUARY 18, 2019: The battle between the Kiwis and the Aussie invaders stepped up another gear as the four-round 2019 New Zealand Motocross Championships reached the halfway point near Rotorua at the weekend.

Australian visitor Kirk Gibbs finished with a 1-2-1 score-card in his three MX1 class races at Rotorua on Sunday, a virtual mirror image of Cody Cooper’s results at round one in Taranaki a fortnight earlier.

Mount Maunganui’s Cooper finished with a 2-1-2 score-card in Rotorua on Sunday, a virtual mirror image of Gibbs’ results at Taranaki, and so the two men are level on the points table after two of four rounds.

Constant in the third ranking position is Hamilton’s Kayne Lamont, thanks to him finishing third in each of the six MX1 races in the two rounds thus far.

Gibbs had started the day in Rotorua three points adrift of Cooper but the deficit was wiped out during the frantic race action on Sunday.

“Me and Coops (Cody Cooper) didn’t really get to race today, to be honest,” said just-turned 30-year-old Gold Coast rider Gibbs.

“We were never close together on the track,” he explained. “Either he got a good start and I got a bad start, or I got a good start and he got a bad start.

“I felt like I had good speed and rode well and the bike was handling really well. We go to the next round now at Pukekohe and that’s one of my favourite tracks.”

It was a similar case in the MX2 (250cc) class, with 20-year-old Cairns rider Wilson Todd winning the day at Rotorua.

He has won three of the six races in the class so far, but an eighth in one race in Taranaki and a fourth in the first race in Rotorua means he is currently three points adrift of the ultra-consistent Harwood, although that's actually not a huge deficit in the big scheme of things, with two rounds (six more races) still to come.

Motorcycling New Zealand motocross commissioner Ray Broad, from Ngatea, said the championship was "really heating up".

"It was a very good day and the club here kept everything on track. It was entertaining stuff and spectators would have left here well satisfied," he said.

Meanwhile, dual-class ironman Harwood is so far unbeaten in the chase for 125cc class honours and he leads that category by 28 points from Ngatea’s former national 125cc champion Ben Broad, with Rotorua’s Josh Bourke-Palmer third overall after two rounds, 13 points further back.

Mangakino's Maximus Purvis continues to lead the MX2 class battle-within-a-battle for Under-19 age group honours and he is now eight points ahead of Australian Morgan Fogarty, with Hamilton's Reef Wheki still third.

There is no rest for the riders as round three follows this coming Sunday at Harrisville, just outside Pukekohe, with the fourth and final round set for Taupo on March 10.

Rotorua's round two of the Fox-sponsored 2019 New Zealand Motocross Championships was additionally supported by Patterson O'Connor Motorcycles. Ebbett Pukekohe is to support round three and Yamalube is to support round four.

The series is sponsored by FOX Racing NZ, Suzuki NZ, Yamaha NZ, Blue Wing Honda, Aon Insurance, ICG Print and Pirelli.

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan,


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