DECEMBER 5, 2022: Like a fine wine, Bay of Plenty motocross star Cody Cooper just seems to keep getting better with age.
Though considered a veteran in this traditionally young man’s pursuit, the Bridgestone Kawasaki Racing Team rider from Papamoa once again proved he’s still at the pinnacle of the sport and his rivals for the upcoming New Zealand Motocross Championships series will possibly need to lift their game just to be able to stick with the 39-year-old.
The multi-time former national MX1 champion dominated the elite MX1 class at first of two rounds in this year’s Waikato Motocross Championships near Huntly last month and then dealt up another solid performance at the final round near Te Kuiti on Sunday.
Current national MX1 champion Hamish Harwood (KTM), from West Auckland, actually won the day at Kuiti, but Cooper won the war, clinching the series honours outright.
Injuries meant Harwood had been a no-show at round one of this series last month, but his 1-2-1 score-card from his three MX1 class races at Te Kuiti on Sunday will obviously make him a threat to Cooper in the nationals in the New Year, although Cooper was downplaying that.
“With the duration of each race on Sunday of 18 minutes plus one lap, it gave me a chance to see where I am sitting fitness-wise. I have not been doing much endurance training lately, so overall I was pretty happy with how I performed. I’ll be doing a lot more riding over the next couple of months and I’ll only get better.”
With three wins, two runner-up finishes and a fourth placing from six starts in the two-event series, Cooper was easily the most dominant rider in the MX1 class throughout the series and comfortably wrapped up the title overall.
To further underscore Cooper’s strength, speed and power, the Kawasaki rider took a 250cc version of his bike to also win the series outright in the MX2 class.
Cooper scored three wins and three runner-up finishes in the MX2 class.
“The 250 was pretty good for standard suspension and engine and so forth. It’s impressive straight out of the packing crate. I’m loving these bikes,” said Cooper.
“I’m blown away by the 250 actually. It’s a stock standard machine and performs like a works bike.”
Cooper has won the MX1 class at the season-opening MX Fest extravaganza in Taupo in October and then went on to race at the New Zealand Veterans’ and Women’s Motocross Championships near Cambridge a week later. It was no surprise that he comfortably won the veteran men’s 35-39 years’ class at that event.
All of this must be ringing a few alarm bells for his rivals as Cooper seriously considers racing both the MX1 and MX2 classes at the four-round senior New Zealand Motocross Championships starting in Balclutha in February.
“By racing in two classes I was pretty tired at the end of the day at Te Kuiti, but I’ll be working hard on improving my fitness in the coming weeks,” Cooper warned.
In addition to the four-round nationals in February and March, Cooper will turn up to race his Kawasaki bikes at the big annual Whakatane Summercross just after Christmas, followed by the New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville (in late January).
Other class winners at the Waikato Motocross Championships at Te Kuiti were Auckland’s Hamish Harwood (KTM, MX125); Mount Maunganui’s Roma Edwards (Honda, senior women); Titirangi’s Ryan Buxeda (KTM, veterans’ 35-44 years); Te Awamutu’s Bryce McDougall (Honda, veterans’ over-45 years); Buxeda (MX3); Te Kuiti’s Luke Riley (GasGas, junior support 85/150cc).
Credit: Words by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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