The first two rounds of this years nationals have been hard hitting body smashers and the Rotorua track didn’t let up one bit.
While the theme of no dust continued, the sandier soil made life hard in a different way with the rider constantly wary of getting tucked like yesterdays breakfast in between the sharp holes typical of our tracks here in NZ.
Secretly I was looking forward to this round as it is basically my home track, so when I took the early lead in qualifying and get the number one time spot was definitely satisfying. I really did want to win at least one round of these nationals and this was a good way to start.
How narrow that qualifying win had been was definitely obvious in the first race. After starting in around 15th I hooked in behind Daryl King and waited for him to charge through the pack. Unfortunately he didn’t, going around 3 seconds a lap slower than his potential which meant I got passed by Cody Mackie.
Fortunately for me my Aussie team mate went down in a soft berm and I then got past DK. Putting in much faster laps that turned out to be the fastest on the track at the time was not enough to shake him off my tail nor catch and pass those in front of me, finishing in 6th place. My other team mate Cam Dillon went on to win while Nick Saunders had his ride of the day to get third.
I was blessed with a good jump off the concrete gate and tight inside line in the second race and then set on to Luke Burkharts tail. He was making some dangerous mistakes and I was trying to put on the pressure but made a big mistake of my own in an extra soft corner and lost a big gap along with a lot of pace. Mackie and DK then put the pressure on me, both riding incredibly well in the last of the moto to finish right on Burkharts tail.
Going for the Win
The last race saw a repeat of the starting order with Burkhart soon out front and Australian Team Suzuki rider Daniel McCoy just in front of me. Burkhart had an off track excursion which let the two of us through so I then focused on pushing McCoy. It was a good match up as I was faster on the first half of the track while he had the back half sorted. Three times I almost passed him for the lead but he held on, making for great racing right to the end. My great bike sponsor and mechanic for the day Danny Evans from Botany Honda did a great job at telling me my times and telling me who was approaching from behind and his work on the bike with son Nathan was a huge help in helping me get a good result.
My 6th, 4th and 2nd place finishes put me a single point off Dillon and DK who tied for second place for the day while McCoy took a great points haul with the win and is now points leader running in to the final round at New Plymouth this coming weekend. I am just six points off third place after previous points leader Cody Mackie had the very bad fortune of getting stuck in a boggy ditch for much of the final race so watch this space….