25 October 2022

The 2022-23 New Zealand motocross season could not have kicked off much better for Bay of Plenty racer Cody Cooper.

The just-turned 39-year-old showed that age is no barrier to performing at the top level if you’ve got a winning machine underneath you and a superb crew to back you up.

The Papamoa rider, a multi-time New Zealand motocross champion, took his Bridgestone Kawasaki Racing Team KX450 to win the premier MX1 class at the big annual MX Fest event at the Digger McEwen Motorcycle Park, on the outskirts of Taupo, over Labour Weekend.

It wasn’t easy, but Cooper dug deep to win the races that mattered, snatching the class overall from arch rival Maximus Purvis, beating the Mangakino rider with a stylish win in what became the deciding seventh and final race for them on Sunday.

Cody Cooper

Cooper’s eventual two-point winning margin over Purvis gives the Kawasaki rider a massive boost in confidence with a jam-packed season of racing now ahead of him, although Cooper never doubted his own ability and always had faith in the depth and strength of support coming from his experienced team management and pit crew.

Cooper’s team-mate in the Bridgestone Kawasaki Racing Team, Rangiora’s Micah McGoldrick, also impressed by finishing fourth overall in the MX1 class, behind Cooper, Purvis and Te Puke’s Tyler Steiner.

International Six Days Enduro gold medallist Josh Jack, from Helensville, rounded out the top five in this class, further illustrating the international class of this MX1 field.

These results may offer a clue to which individuals might be battling for the silverware at the big annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville in late January or when the nationals kick off in the South Island in February.

Cody Cooper

“It’s a great way to start the season. I had no problems physically and this is after having done the least ever amount of pre-season training,” Cooper said.

“I guess everyone else is the same boat, with having their routines disrupted by the pandemic, but I felt the best I ever have at this event. It’s true I had strung together a series of better race starts at this event in the past, so I do have some work still to do, but I got the starts nailed that I needed to today.

“Max (Purvis) is riding well, you know, and so I feel it might have been a little bit unexpected for me to win here today. He was like about four seconds a lap faster than me in practice. Maybe my experience gave me an edge where I needed it.

Cody Cooper

“I’m very happy with the bike and really gelling with it. Everything is dialled in to the way I like it. Just got to test a few minor things now.

“I’m looking ahead to the Waikato Motocross Champs in November and I’m actually racing the New Zealand Veterans’ Motocross Championships near Cambridge next weekend too,” said Cooper, that statement further emphasising just how remarkable was this “old man’s” achievement in winning at Taupo against all the rising young stars of the sport.

Credit: Words by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com

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