DECEMBER 28, 2020: A bolt of lightning might have been the only way to stop Waikato rider Josiah Natzke in his tracks at the weekend.
It’s almost certain that only a freak of nature could have slowed down the national MX2 (250cc class) No.2 from Hamilton as he registered five wins from five starts at the big annual Whakatane Summercross event near Matata on Sunday.
With Natzke finishing unbeaten at this traditional post-Christmas spectacular, it has surely rung a few warning bells for his MX2 class rivals ahead of the 2021 national championships due to start early in the New Year.
The Bridgestone Kawasaki Racing Team star was a stand-out performer at Summercross this time around, although also impressive was his MX1 class team-mate Ethan Martens, who holeshot three of the big bike races, giving the green team an incredible total of eight holeshots from 10 races in the two premier classes.
However, Auckland’s Martens had to settle for fourth overall in the MX1 class, as Hamilton’s Kayne Lamont and Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper shared all five MX1 race wins between them – Lamont winning the class narrowly from Cooper, with Mount Maunganui’s Rhys Carter, Martens and Wairoa’s Tommy Watts rounding out the top five.
But it was Natzke who stole the show for the weekend with his clean sweep of wins.
Natzke qualified his Kawasaki KX250F fastest early on Sunday, then raced to first of his five MX2 race wins, crossing the line half a second ahead of Mangakino’s 2020 national MX2 champion Maximus Purvis.
But, close though as that was, Natzke was just warming up. He won the next race by more than three seconds from Purvis and set the tone for a dominance not often seen in this most frantic of bike classes.
For race three, Natzke crossed the finish line more than 14 seconds ahead of Tauranga’s former MX2 world champion Ben Townley.
Race four saw Natzke take the chequered flag by an impressive 15 seconds from Oparau’s James Scott and the fifth and final race was another Natzke master class as he cleared out to win by nearly 25 seconds from runner-up Townley.
Natzke, who will turn 22 on January 1, was determined to put the event to good use in terms of his preparation for the nationals, although the unique Summercross format did mix things up somewhat.
“The first MX2 race was quite close, but that was a sprint race, only five laps (and took barely eight minutes), so not much chance really for me to break away,” said Natzke.
“The second outing was a sprint race too and Max (Purvis) was my nearest challenger again, but I just focussed on what I had to do and got the job done.
“The next two races were short too, but the last race of the day was much longer (11 laps).”
Clearly leading the points standings after four of the five races, the pressure was off for Natzke, so he chose to set a target for himself.
“Just for fun, I wanted to see how big a gap I could get over the others. That was my goal for race five. I even made a mistake and fell off in that last race, but managed to get up and get going again quickly, so kept my big lead intact.
“This was my first time on the new 2021-model Kawasaki and I’m really pleased with the bike. I’m feeling confident ahead of the New Zealand Grand Prix at Woodville (on January 30-31) and the motocross nationals.”
Meanwhile, fellow Kawasaki rider Taylar Rampton, from Opunake, dominated the senior women’s grade at Summercross, finishing the day unbeaten to win ahead of women’s national champion Amie Roberts, of Hamilton, and Rotorua’s Letitia Alabaster.
Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com