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Vets’ and Women’s national titles decided at popular Central Hawkes Bay track

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PHOTO - Former international motocross star Josh Coppins on his way to winning the  Vets 40-44 years category at the 2019 New Zealand Veterans' and Women's Motocross Nationals at Otane, at the weekend. Photo by Chris Ritchie.  






The overwhelming feedback from the popular 2019 New Zealand Veterans' and Women's Motocross Nationals revolved around a well-run weekend - where the champions of the future and the past converged to enjoy the natural Otane track at the weekend.

It was a case of the who’s who and who-used-to-be-who turning up for some intense racing between the country’s elite females, in both the junior and senior grades, and also the top male riders aged over 30 years.

Hosted on the Twist's property, by the Central Hawkes Bay Motorcycle Club, the fast-flowing circuit earned a favourable review from two-time, former motocross world No.2 Josh Coppins. The Motueka-based, ex-international star comfortably cleaned up the Vets 40-44 years category, winning all five races and heading home runner-up Cambridge’s Damien King, a former multiple national champion and Barry Morris, in third.

“The track was what I grew up racing on – natural terrain and old school. It was a great weekend,” Coppins (42) says.

While he won The Gathering of the Gods feature race for the top four riders from each Vet class, on outright speed, the final result was determined by adding the riders’ ages together with their points earned. The 70-79-year-old competitors were at an advantage here and consequently claimed some well-justified glory ending up on the podium. Peter Palmer topped the score sheet, followed by Reg Davey – the pair also finishing second and third respectively in the Vets 70-79 years class.

The Vets’ 40 to 54 years categories were headed by some seriously big names. British-born former Grand Prix star Kurt Nicoll, a four-time 500cc motocross world No.2, was one of them and only dropped to second once, winning the other four races to lift the Vets 50-54 years trophy.

It was the California-based rider’s first time racing in New Zealand and he couldn’t speak highly enough of the experience.

“I really, really enjoyed it. Everyone made me really welcome. The track was something we absolutely don’t get in the United States, with the fresh grass and no man-made jumps – it was an amazing experience,” Nicoll says.

He had his work cut out for him to take the trophy away however.

“It certainly wasn’t easy. The New Zealand guys, especially Mitch Rowe, [the New Plymouth rider, who finished third in the Gathering of the Gods feature race] who are used to riding this sort of track a lot were very fast. I only just managed to sneak through for the win. The competition was tougher than I expected!” Nicoll adds.

 Hamilton’s Amie Roberts was utterly dominant on her YZ250F in the Senior Women’s class, winning all five races to claim her first national title. The 20-year-old credited riding and training with her partner, top Kiwi MX1 rider Kayne Lamont, for helping her to reach the top of the podium.

The 1996 500cc motocross world champion Shayne King, from New Plymouth was expected to feature strongly in the 45-49 years class but it was ex-GP racer Cameron Negus, of Rotorua who claimed the honours. Former veterans' world champion Pukekohe’s Tony Cooksley, demonstrated he still had the goods, claiming the Vets 60-69 years title amongst a field of seven other riders.

Taupo’s Nick Saunders enjoyed a successful return to racing after taking the past four years off to start a family. He clean-swept the Vets 30 to 34 years category on his Kawasaki KX450 and is now considering re-entering the competitive motocross scene.

Motorcycling New Zealand General Manager Virginia Henderson attended the event and thoroughly enjoyed watching the racing.

“This event was one of the biggest vets’ and women’s nationals we’ve had for a long time. There were lots of class battles and it was particularly encouraging to see the junior women’s categories so hotly contested,” she says.

Commentator Neil Ritchie agreed, mentioning the positive flow-on effect of Kiwi motocross sensation Courtney Duncan winning the Women’s World Motocross Championship last weekend.

“We held a round of applause for her at the beginning of the meeting,” he says.

Ritchie added that seeing the 8 to 12 years girls racing so strongly was promising, as there were some obviously talented riders coming through the ranks, some of whom will hopefully follow in Duncan’s footsteps one day.

Rotorua’s Ticayla Manson was second in her first 8-12 years 85cc race, before going on to win the next four and wrap up this category.

MNZ Motocross Commissioner Ray Broad was thrilled to see 206 riders on the entry list for the two-day event.

“This is one of the largest motocross events in New Zealand this year. We started a strategy two years ago to make it easier for competitors to enter with amendments to the license structure. Now it’s starting to show through,” he says.

Broad added that the response from the riders had been “fantastic and ticked all the boxes”.

“The club did an outstanding job, which they can be proud of,” he says.

Next year’s New Zealand Veterans' and Women's Motocross Championships will be hosted by the Gore and Districts Motorcycle Club.

Words by Catherine Pattison


RESULTS

WOMEN'S

Junior 8-12 years 85cc - Ticayla Manson

13-16 years 85cc - Avalon Smith

Junior 12-16 years 125cc/250F - Zara Gray

Senior - Amie Roberts

Vets 30-39 years - Kylie Foreman

Vets 40 years + -Shelley Hickman

MEN'S

Vets 30-34 years - Nick Saunders

Vets 35-39 years - James Robinson

Vets 40-44 years - Josh Coppins

Vets 45-49 years - Cameron Negus

Vets 50-54 years - Kurt Nicoll

Vets 55-59 years - David Wallace

Vets 60-69 years - Tony Cooksley  

Vets 70-79 years - Neil Boniface   

 

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