Despite the wild weather lashing the New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at the famous Woodville circuit yesterday, the expanded three-rider Altherm JCR Yamaha team managed to each finish a race on the podium and avoid injury in the treacherous conditions.
The Manawatu-Orion Motorcycle Club Inc. (MOMCC) hosted the 58th annual two-day meeting, which was once again recognised as an FIM Oceania event and saw 600 riders converge on the popular North Island venue. The January dates indicated that it should be a summer event, yet the wind and rain conspired to cancel the first of three races yesterday.
The 2015 Australian MX1 motocross champion Kirk Gibbs, who joins the Altherm JCR Yamaha team for this prestigious race weekend and also to defend his title in the four-round 2019 New Zealand Motocross Championship, described it as “a very crazy day weather-wise and the worst wind I have ever ridden in.”
Gold Coast-based Gibbs (29) had the team’s best results over the shortened race programme, going 2-2 on his new YZ450F to finish second overall behind main rival Cody Cooper, who won both MX1 motos.
The riders were able to complete practice yesterday morning before the organisers cancelled the first round of racing due to high winds. Then the rain started and never stopped all day.
Gibbs says he got a great start in the first race, “which put me second around the first turn and right behind Cody Cooper. I kept him honest most of the race and got a little arm pump just from the lack of racing for me lately.”
He describes the second moto as a full mud race and although he got a great start, the conditions forced him to take it easy.
“I leaned back off down the straight because it was slippery and I wheeled and got sideways, so I had to back it down. I got into second behind Cody Cooper early and it was just trail riding because the track was really deep, one-lined and skatey. Sometimes in those conditions it's better to play it smart.”
The tough conditions have set him up well for the New Zealand Motocross Championships, which begin in Taranaki on Sunday.
“It's great to get a race under my belt and some starts behind the gate. Being my first race in a long time, on a new bike and team, I feel like everything is coming together really well. I’m happy with my speed and fitness so far and will only get better as I get more racing done,” Gibbs promises.
He also knows he will have to bring his A-game to each of the four rounds if he wants to take the winner’s trophy back to Australia in March.
“The aim is to win. Cody Cooper is such a great rider and knows how to win but I think I am in a good spot to do battle with him. It will be a battle every round because I know he wants that number 1 plate back over here and I don't want to let it go. Also I know Kayne Lamont will be keen to get in the mix,” Gibbs says of his Altherm JCR Yamaha team mate.
Lamont (25) was back racing in the MX1 class this weekend - after sitting out the Whakatane Summercross with an ACL injury - and the Hamilton rider rounded out the podium in the first race to finish third.
“Firstly I was excited to be back racing as it’s nearly been three months since my last race. So I couldn’t wait to get out there and race. I qualified P2 but got put back a place as I jumped on a yellow flag, so ended up third,” Lamont says.
In race one, he got a decent start and was third most of the race but “struggled with arm pump bad. So I rode safely to get through and a rider that passed me unfortunately crashed out and I ended up finishing in third,” Lamont says.
He was unlucky in the second race.
“I got a wicked start and came into the first turn then had a decent crash exiting it which put me out of the race. I’m still in mainly one piece and am excited to kick off the nationals in the Taranaki this weekend coming,” Lamont says.
Altherm JCR Yamaha’s MX2 rider, Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis was third overall on his Yamaha YZ250F after scoring 4-2.
Team Manager Josh Coppins says Purvis crashed twice in the first race while trying to catch up to the leader, which relegated him to fourth, which was “a bit of a shame.”
“In the second race he rode well and was a little bit smarter and more calculated so that was a second for him.”
Once again it was a busy weekend for Coppins, as along with managing his team’s three riders he was providing support for the many Yamaha customers riding on the Saturday. He was pleased that the trio emerged unscathed by injury.
“I’m happy that the boys came away healthy and all three were on the podiums in their individual races. We need to improve a couple of things for Max, Kayne and Kirk to be able to challenge for those wins but they can do that,” Coppins says.
CAPTIONS: Altherm JCR Yamaha rider Kirk Gibbs was second in the MX1 class at the New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville yesterday.
Altherm JCR Yamaha MX1 rider Kayne Lamont had a mixed weekend, finishing third in the first race and crashing out of the second race at the New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville yesterday.
Altherm JCR Yamaha MX2 rider Maximus Purvis scored 4-2 to finish third overall at the New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville yesterday.