The third round of the 2019 Fox New Zealand Motocross witnessed another win-trading battle between Altherm JCR Yamaha’s Kirk Gibbs and Cody Cooper again.
In classic Aussie versus Kiwi-style, defending MX1 champion Gold Coast-based Gibbs won one race, to Cooper’s two, at the Harrisville Motocross Track in Pukekohe yesterday. It was a reversal of last weekend’s score cards, where Gibbs bested Cooper in two out of the three motos in Rotorua.
Gibbs has enjoyed the fierce rivalry with Cooper, as it’s always a fair fight.
“It’s been very clean racing between me and Coops, which has been good. No out of control passes or clean-outs. We’ve passed really clean and raced clean. I think we are both older riders and we know if we hit the dirt, it hurts. We’ve been very respectful of each other and it’s been good racing,” 29-year-old Gibbs says.
Altherm JCR Yamaha manager Josh Coppins says it was a mixed day for the team.
“I would have liked to have left with a points lead for Kirk, unfortunately that didn’t happen. He just got the timing wrong in the first race and ended up with a three-point deficit for the day.”
Gibbs says the opening moto had been going well and he had been riding in second before taking the lead.
“Coops [Cody Cooper] followed me for a few laps. I made a mistake and he got back by. We played cat and mouse but I couldn’t catch or pull him in and ended up second.”
In the second race, Gibbs didn’t get the best start.
“I got pushed a little wide then nearly went down a couple of times on the first turn. I made it really hard for myself. By the time I got into second, Coops was gone and I couldn’t bridge that gap, so it was second again.”
Gibbs got his own back in the final moto.
“In the last race, I got a decent start. I got in behind Coops and was slowly, slowly catching him. I was right up behind him and he made a little mistake and I got by and was able to bring it home for a win.
Does Gibbs think he can bring his A-game to the fourth and final round in a fortnight to hold onto his 2018 winner’s trophy?
“Hope so. I know Coops rides well in Taupo, but I’ll just have to be better.”
Gibbs is looking ahead to the Australian motocross nationals after his New Zealand campaign and says the racing here has helped his preparation immensely.
“It’s definitely awesome that Coops is riding so well. It’s good for me to ride even harder and get better with my Yamaha YZ450 set-up.”
Hamilton’s Kayne Lamont had cut and paste results from the first two rounds – where he has finished third in each of the three MX1 motos.
“I probably wasn’t getting any better this round but the first two rounds I felt like I was improving. Now I’ve got two weeks, so hopefully I get a bit more bike time and head into Taupo with more confidence in myself and the bike,” he says.
Lamont can’t catch Cooper and Gibbs for the top two rungs of the championship podium, unless they both have DNFs in the final round but he is comfortably holding third place.
“The front boys are a bit too fast. The track was as hard as concrete, and at times we are doing 80kmh on the straights, so I didn’t want to fall today,” Lamont (25) says.
Coppins was happy with Lamont’s performance.
“Kayne was consistent in third and is still racing himself back into fitness after his pre-season injury,” he says.
The team’s MX2 rider Maximus Purvis (18) finished 6-3-9 in his first year in the larger bike capacity class on his Yamaha YZ250.
“We had the same struggles for Max, stepping up to the big class in MX2. He still learning and the few small mistakes he is making are hurting him,” Coppins says.
Purvis’ first race began with him not getting a good jump off the gate.
“I was buried. Then I came around the corner pretty far back and worked my way up to sixth,” he says.
The second outing, he got a better start and stayed consistent to hold third the whole way through.
In the last race start a wheelie down the start, meant he had to pull the clutch in.
“I got buried at the start down the back. The track was really dry, which made passing hard but I got back to ninth.”
Coppins was busy over the weekend, hosting the Yamaha bLUcRU Cup as well, with many Yamaha guests and supporters there over the weekend.
“Overall we are second in MX1, three points off the lead with Kirk; third in MX1 with Kayne and we are sitting second in MX2 and leading the Under-19 championship with Max. I’d very much like an Altherm JCR Yamaha rider to capture the MX1 title, so we will be focused on trying to achieve that in Taupo,” Coppins concludes.
Altherm JCR Yamaha would like to thank their sponsors: Altherm Window Systems, JCR, Yamaha Motor New Zealand, Yamalube, GYTR, bLUcRU, Akrapovic, Ward Demolition, Star Moving, Holland Collision Centre, Workshop Graphics, Fox, YMI, YMF, Pirelli, Twin Air, DID, Renthal, Motomuck, Vertex, Motoseat & SKF.
Altherm JCR Yamaha 2019 Fox MNZ MX National Championship
Round 1 - Sunday 3rd February - Taranaki
Round 2 - Sunday 17th February - Rotorua
Round 3 - Sunday 24th February - Pukekohe
Round 4 - Sunday 10th March – Taupo