Once again the plan of holding the NZ MX Nationals in the drier months went perfectly to plan, with some seriously hot racing to match the temperatures. Sweating on the sidelines might not be where I had intended to be, but it certainly provided a good chance to catch the action.
Once again it was our friend Coops leading the International field with a stunning performance at each round, but what really surprised me was the other Kiwis now getting in the mix. Most noteable was Taupo’s Brad Groombridge, the fittest and fastest I have ever seen him. Not only was he bringing the battle to the big names such as Kirk Gibbs, Ford Dale and Billy McKenzie during the race, he also had some of the stunning starts that are much too rare from our local riders. After a relatively first round he went on to finish in the top three for every race bar one. Those painful words “if only” must have been knocking around in his mind when winning the final race put him only one point shy of pipping his Scotsman rival for the number two plate.
He was not the only Kiwi to excel though, with Michael Phillips putting in a solid effort to take fourth overall, followed by a no doubt disappointed Gibbs who was knocked out of the last round at Taupo. That left a fired up trio of Jesse Wiki, Dion Picard and Ethan Martens to fill up the next three positions, before two more Aussies in the form of Matty Hayworth and a beaten up Ford Dale rounded out the top ten.
The dominant display of an in form Kayne Lamont can only be eclipsed by one thing- his toughness. Having had his appendix out a mere 36 hours before he lined up for the final round at Taupo, he was no doubt severly hampered mentally and physically with sickness and extreme pain. What is extraordinary is the fact that he didn’t just cruize around to finish in the top ten, he wanted to finish his campaign early and seal enough points in the first two races that he did not need to race the finale. Which is what he did with fourth and third place finishes, a stunning way to cap off what is his first NZ senior MX title.
It was made all the more impressive because of the competition he was battling with. The top seven riders of Hamish Dobbyn, Jay Wilson, Scott Columb, John Phillips, Hamish Harwood and Rhys Carter were like a road cycling peleton at almost every race of the series. In the second race at Taupo there was a 40 second gap between 7th and 8th position, making it seem as if there was not one but two seperate championships going on at the same time. It so happens that many of those riders continued on to get excellent results in the first round of the Australian MX Champs one week later, including an overall win by Kayne now that he had a whole week to get over his operation. My hat is off to them all.
Our adopted son Laurent Fath, as we came to think of him, finished in behind Hayden Kanters, Nick Saunders, last years BRC rider Kieran Scheele, and then Scotty Canham in twelfth overall. Not exactly where he wanted to be, we were still proud of him for a gutsy and talented effort, doing true justice to the efforts of Scott Barr-Smith and Mark Scoby as his mechanical crew. We wish him all the best as he is now home in New Caledonia preparing for their National Championships over our Autumn/ Winter.
New Records in the 125’s
Ever since witnessing Andrew Hardisty became the youngest NZ rider to win a Senior MX Championship back in the mid 90’s, he has held a place in my mind as one of my most respected riders. So for an even younger Josiah Natzke to pip that record with a nearly faultless final three rounds nearly blows that part of my mind to pieces. With solid holeshots and excellent speed, or aggressive passes should the need arise, he showed the maturity that continues to mark his career as one to watch. Best of all he seems to have kept his feet on the ground and consequently we wish him all the very best.
Unfortunately it was inconsistency and crashes that told the story for the rest of the riders making up that class. Hadleigh Knight, Academy trainer of ours Logan Blackburn, Ryan Metz and Beau Yeandle made up the next four spots, followed by an injured Aaron Wiltshire in sixth overall. For many of them it will be a case of looking back over their training program to take the good from the bad with the goal to come back stronger next year.
Where To From Here
Much of the post race talk will no doubt have the 250 two stroke issue up front first, followed by the even older debate as to the time of year these events should be held. What stood out for me was the professionalism that Backflips Clothing brought to the events with all of their banners and advertisements, followed by the massive effort of all four clubs that each had something special to add to their event. The main thing lacking in my mind was the number of riders lining up for the events. I am to blame as much as anyone, not only for the fact that the number 5 was not racing, but perhaps there is more that we as a coaching company can do to help nurture this awesome sport that we have by encouraging and preparing riders both in skills and confidence. We just need your support in helping us help you.