By Andy McGechan
The course was slick and the weather conditions frustrating, but Kiwi international Josh Coppins was up to the challenge at the opening round of the New Zealand Supercross Championships in Tokoroa on Saturday night.
Motueka’s Coppins (Yamaha) dominated the Open class and Queenstown’s Scott Columb did likewise in the Lites (250cc) class at the opening round of the series in the small central North Island forestry town of Tokoroa on Saturday night.
Coppins seemed out-of-sorts in the lead-up to the night’s three championship points races but, as he explained, he was "just getting the bike dialled-in".
"It took me the early qualifying races to work out I needed to ride in a higher gear. I was wheel-spinning at the start and in the tight corners but, once I worked out that third-gear starts would work, I was away."
Coppins finished 2-1-1 in the three championship races, easily enough to edge out Christchurch’s Justin McDonald (Honda), who finished 3-3-2 and Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper (Suzuki), who came home 4-2-4.
In the Lites class, Columb showed remarkable courage to battle through the pain barrier and win the night.
"I crashed my bike about a week ago and it just about blew my eyes out," said Columb. "I was in a heap of pain.
"But I dug deep and managed to win the night here. That’s good," said the man who was national No.2 in this class last season.
Runner-up was fellow Suzuki star Brad Groombridge, the Hawera-based Taupo rider who represented New Zealand at the Motocross of Nations Denver, Colorado, in September. Third overall was Honda rider Peter Broxholme, of Tauranga.
Top junior class rider in Tokoroa was Levin’s James Anderson, ahead of another South Island superstar, Rangiora’s Micah McGoldrick (KTM), and Atiamuri’s Dion Picard (Suzuki).
The second of four rounds in the series is scheduled for Taupo on January 2, with rounds to follow in Motueka (January 9) and Timaru (January 15).