April 17, 2023:
Bay of Plenty’s Flynn Watts demonstrated perfectly why green means go when he clinched his first national motocross title in Southland at the weekend.
The 16-year-old from Pukehina, near Whakatane, took his bright green Kawasaki KX250 to seal up the premier 14-16 years’ 250cc class title at the three-day 2023 New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships on the outskirts of Invercargill.
The annual school holiday event was run from Friday through until Sunday, at The Sandpit track at Otatara, and the racing was incredibly fierce, with the elite of New Zealand’s junior motocross talent, aged between eight and 16 years, all determined to make their mark before they graduate to the senior ranks, where racing and winning gets a whole lot harder.
Watts has been racing high-powered motocross bikes since he was aged just four and he needed every kilogram of experience to tackle and eventually beat the nation’s elite junior racers in Invercargill at the weekend.
Watts finished runner-up to rival Seth Morrow, from Silverdale, in the first race of the weekend, but then he won the next two, which meant he led the standings with just Sunday’s racing still to come.
Another runner-up finish and then an unaccustomed fourth in the final race of the weekend was enough for Watts to get the job done and he finished the event on top of this premier grade, ahead of Levin’s Phoenix Van Dusschoten and former Southland rider Morrow.
“I knew where I had to finish in that last race, so just relaxed a bit and settled for fourth,” Watts explained.
“The track was challenging and fast too, but that suited me. The suspension set-up was great and I had no bike issues all weekend.
“I had finished third overall in my class at the junior nationals in Tauranga two years ago and was forced to skip last year’s nationals in Taranaki because of injury, so it was great to bounce back and win my first title now. I was sidelined with injury for something like eight months, but that’s all forgotten now.
“I am hoping I can head away to race in the United States later in the year, but that’s just in the planning stages at the moment.”
Meanwhile, his Pro Circuit Kawasaki Racing Team-mate, Mangakino’s Maz Parkes, also tasted great success at the weekend, winning the 12-13 years’ 85cc/150cc class title.
Parkes won four out of his five races at the weekend and, like Watts, he was satisfied to settle for fourth in his final outings, easily enough to get the job done and seal up the title ahead of Karaka’s Hayden Draper and Auckland’s Jack Ellingham.
It is interesting to note that Papamoa’s Cody Cooper took his Bridgestone Kawasaki Racing Team KX250 to win the senior MX2 (250cc) title at the 2023 senior New Zealand Motocross Championships in March, which means the brand now holds both the national senior and junior titles for 250cc motocross competition.
Credit: Words by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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