Arriving late on Saturday night I strapped on my handy headlamp and went walking. A shooting star streaked towards the ground, pointing directly at the newly laid out Pukekohe MX track hiding amongst the darkness in front of me. Half an hour later my sneak peek was complete and all I could say (to myself) was “Greg Atkins, you know what you are doing buddy.”The questions were few but important and bear with me as I answer them. I did not need to worry about my Botany/ Bel-Ray Honda motorcycle performing, that I was confident of. As how the track layout would work, no questions there as it was awesome. So;
#1. How would the ground shape up. With the ‘Weather Bomb’ proving to be almost a disappointment in the northern climes at least, there was not as much water deep in the ground as Patetonga had boasted to create its perfect conditions the weekend prior. Still there was enough to not need any watering of note during the day, it just wasn’t MX-topia if I could say that. Things definitely roughed up later in the day with big holes where top soil met dried out clay which made the last race pretty punishing although in general each rider I talked to said they didn’t feel as sore after Pukekohe as they did after the first two rounds.
#2. Would I get the starts I NEEDED. In a word, no. I got three awesome jumps off the gates but spun up after the gates in race one after not realizing how slippery the white clay underneath was, in race two I was able to sneak around the outside and quickly up to third place but the final start saw me nearly out front until the rider next to me got bumped wide which had the old domino effect. Lesson learned- if I have been practicing starts enough (like I feel I had), then I should back myself and start closer to the inside. Having to still be learning after this many years racing is a bit tough on the pride.
And the money question, #3 Could I lay down the pace. Answer- Kind of. After riding a bit too nicely in race one and not squeezing out Shaun Fogarty to finish fourth In race two I stuck with DK until he pounced on Johnny Phillips hitting some lappers. John got him right back which enabled me to get right up behind them and then use an inside line I had been preparing to pass both of them in one corner. DK tried insanely hard to squeeze up my inside in to the next rut but despite some serious rubbing (my throttle hand was all but stuck in his front wheel before we bumped apart) neither of us went down, and I managed to bump out Johnny in the next corner who had just gone around the two of us. They both went back through the field after that while I held out Shaun Fogarty to win that race. It was a good feeling. In the final race I was pushing hard to climb back through the pack when I went down and finished moments behind Kayne Lamont and Rhys Carter in eighth place.
I finished fourth overall for the day but with Daryl Hurley not competing due to last weeks exertion that left me in third for the championship with one round to go March 18th at Taupo. We are all hoping and expecting an epic finale so be there or miss out!