by Andy McGechan
New Zealand’s Plenty’s Ben Townley celebrated victory at the weekend’s 51st annual Woodville Motocross, savouring in the accomplishment of acing the first of three big missions he’s set for himself in the Southern Hemisphere this season.
The 27-year-old from the Bay of Plenty also has his sights set on winning the national MX1 (450cc) class titles in New Zealand and Australia before the year is over, although success at Woodville is perhaps regarded as the “jewel in the crown”, certainly an indicator of how his season might eventually pan out.
Winning at the Honda-sponsored Woodville event was certainly high on the list of priorities for Carlton Dry Honda ace Townley as he put everything on the line to win on Sunday, his face looking the worse for wear after a flying rock found a way under his helmet during the feature race.
Townley finished 1-2-1 in his three MX1 (450cc) races – to finish ahead of fellow Kiwi internationals Cody Cooper (Moto City Suzuki), of Mount Maunganui, Motueka’s Josh Coppins (MXDK Rockstar Yamaha), Christchurch’s Justin McDonald (Bel Ray Honda) and Hamilton’s Hayden Clark (KTM) – and he then wrapped up the main prize by winning the nine-lap feature race, this time finishing ahead of Coppins, Cooper, McDonald and Queenstown’s Scotty Columb (Moto City Suzuki).
Photo: Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
The three-day festival of motocross on Sunday marked more than half a century since New Zealand’s largest stand-alone motocross was created in 1961, an event that has since become a ‘must’ on the Kiwi calendar, a must-see for the nation’s fans and a must-ride for the cream of the country’s racing talent.
“I have not been able to race here much over the years because of international commitments, but it’s nice to come here and go up against a couple of close friends and excellent sportsmen,” said Townley.
“Josh (Coppins) was the man who helped get me to the top in Europe and Cody (Cooper) and I have been battling one another here in New Zealand since we were both in nappies. We race hard but always get together for a laugh afterwards.
“This track was hard work today. It was one of the most technical, rutted tracks that I have raced on in many years. It was a good day, results-wise, but there is still plenty of work to do ahead of the nationals (which kick off near Timaru in two weeks’ time).”
Meanwhile, in other racing at Woodville, Masterton’s Luke Burkhart (CMR Motorex KTM) served notice on his rivals by dominating the MX2 (250cc) class, a hat-trick of wins stamping his authority.
He beat reigning national MX2 champion Darryll King (MXDK Rockstar Yamaha), of Hamilton, and Queenstown’s Scotty Columb (Moto City Suzuki) to the top step of the MX2 podium.
Tauranga’s Logan Blackburn (BikesportNZ.com Yamaha) was the surprise winner of the 125cc GP class, his win in the day’s final 125cc race enough to clinch the title from fellow Yamaha men Cameron Vaughan, of Rotorua, and Katikati’s Garth Amrein.
Top junior rider was Amberley’s Micah McGoldrick (KTM), winner of the 250cc class and also the top man in the 250-125cc Champion-of-Champions race.
Hamilton’s Josiah Natzke (Yamaha) won both the junior 13-16 years’ 85cc class and the 150-85cc Champion-of-Champions feature race.Taupo’s Emma Davis (Honda) scored a hat-trick of wins in the women’s GP class and Auckland’s Chris Power (Honda) finished 1-2 to take honours in the river race class.