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FINAL MOTOCROSS SHOWDOWN IN TAUPO ON SUNDAY

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CAPTION: Mount Maunganui's Cody Cooper leads Australian Kirk Gibbs at Pukekohe a fortnight ago. There was virtually nothing between these two men that day and the same close racing could be expected at Taupo on Sunday. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

MARCH 5, 2019: The 2019 New Zealand Motocross Championships wrap up in Taupo this coming weekend with plenty still at stake, particularly in the premier MX1 class.

The intense Australia versus Kiwi rivalry in this year's Fox-sponsored national series has provided extra bite to the competition and perhaps no more so that in the MX1 class, where Mount Maunganui's six-time former champion Cody Cooper enjoys a slim three-point advantage over the defending champion, Australia's Kirk Gibbs, as they head to Taupo's Digger McEwen Motocross Park for the final showdown on Sunday.

Hamilton's Kayne Lamont holds onto the third spot overall in the series standings and his performance at Taupo on Sunday could be crucial – the former Mangakino man a former MX1 class winner in major events at the Taupo track and almost certain to be closer to the front of the pack on Sunday.

If Lamont gets between the duelling Cooper and Gibbs, then the points calculations could fly out the window.

In was a fierce Kiwi versus Aussie battle in the MX2 (250cc) class too, with defending champion Hamish Harwood, from West Auckland, coming under fire from visiting Australians Wilson Todd and Kyle Webster at the previous rounds, with another Australian, Morgan Fogarty, also among the top five.

But the Australian threat has been dulled somewhat with Todd crashing and injuring himself at Pukekohe's third round of the series two weeks ago, seeing him score no points in two races that day.

The Aussie threat was further diminished, too, with Webster returning home, as he had planned.

Webster had only ever intended to contest rounds two and three in New Zealand this season and – even though he won two of the six races he did enter and finished no worse than third in the others – Webster's abbreviated campaign meant he really had no chance of challenging Harwood for the title.

Mangakino's Maximus Purvis has taken over the second position in the standings and he is now Harwood's greatest threat, but Purvis is a whopping 35 points behind the Aucklander with just three MX2 races to come at Taupo.

In the 125cc class battles, dual-class ironman Harwood has been dominant, winning all nine races in the three rounds thus far. Battling over the runner-up spot are former national 125cc champion Ben Broad, from Ngatea, and Rotorua's Josh Bourke-Palmer, Broad ahead of Bourke-Palmer by just three points as they line up at Taupo.

This weekend's final round of the Fox 2019 New Zealand Motocross Championships is additionally supported by Yamalube.

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

Credit: Words by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com

 

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