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Kiwis stay close to the leaders at Horsham JNR MXGP

Posted by Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan on 27th Aug 2018

Kiwis stay close to the leaders at Horsham JNR MXGP

AUGUST 26, 2018: There were mixed feelings in the Kiwi camp on Sunday after racing wrapped up at the 2018 FIM Junior Motocross World Championships at Horsham, in Australia.

None of the New Zealand contingent managed to end the weekend on the podium – something that had been expected in some quarters – but impressive performances were certainly seen from the Kiwis racing at the deeply-rutted Victorian track.

Best of the Kiwis was Oparau’s James Scott, who finished 7th overall in the premier 125cc class, which came despite his making life difficult for himself with a shocking start in the first of his two races on Sunday.

From nearly last position as the bikes exited turn one, the 16-year-old Scott went on the charge, powering through to 22nd by the end of the first of 15 laps. He continued to work forward and eventually claimed seventh at the finish line.

He also crossed the finish line seventh in race two, after a thrilling battle with French European 125cc Championship leader Thibaut Benistant, those combined results giving Scott a world ranking of seven.

Behind Scott, it was Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly who was next best of the Kiwis in the 125cc class, finishing 13th overall, while Taihape’s Hayden Smith ended up 14th overall and Rongotea’s Zac Jilling finished up 31st overall in the 34-rider 125cc field.

In the 85cc class, best of the Kiwis was Rangiora’s Cobie Bourke, who finished 12th overall.

Rongotea’s Rhys Jillings claimed 28th overall and Darfield’s Tyler Wiremu finished 31st in the 39-rider 85cc class that lined up at Horsham.

Best of the Kiwis in the 65cc class was entrants was Waitoki’s Cole Davies (15th overall), with Nelson’s William Harvey finishing 32nd, Cambridge’s Harrison Findlay ending up 34th and Palmerston North’s Lachie Barr 35th.

Meanwhile, it was Australian teenager Bailey Malkiewicz who made the most of home turf advantage to win the 125cc class title, United States rider Caden Braswell was the top 85cc class rider at Horsham and Australian Braden Plath took the 65cc class honours.

“For me, Brodie (Connolly) was the most impressive of the Kiwis,” said Bay of Plenty’s Ben Townley, the former world champion who had worked as mentor to Scott, Connolly and Smith.

“Brodie was the rider of the weekend I feel. He’s tenacious and had quite high expectations, but I said to him he needed to lower them and he didn’t want to.

“The mission for Brodie this weekend, at only 14 years of age, was to get two good starts and show the world what he could do and he did exactly that.

“For James (Scott), it was a nice effort by him to fight back from his poor start, but he should not have had to do that. We had expected him to be in a podium position and he didn’t achieve that, which was disappointing.

“For Hayden we had a lot of expectation. He hasn’t done a lot of international racing and so it was always going to be tough for him.”