OCTOBER 22, 2021: Two teams, each including two former Motocross of Nations team riders, stole the spotlight at the big annual Battle Of The Teams motocross in Taupo on Friday.

The winning Team Green Kawasaki line-up at the big annual Battle of the Teams fundraiser motocross in Taupo, pictured here standing behind Josiah Natzke’s Kawasaki KX250.

The Motocross of Nations (MXoN) is the pinnacle of the sport globally, often referred to as the “Olympic Games of motocross”, pitting nation against nation in an annual showdown to determine the best motocross country in the world, and the Taupo Motorcycle Club’s spin on that is to run a similar team-versus-team event as a fundraiser to help enable New Zealand to send a contingent to the MXoN each year.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced Team New Zealand to sit out the MXoN – typically staged in Europe – in 2020 and again in 2021, but Taupo’s Battle Of The Clubs went ahead anyway this year with the sole aim of boosting the bank account for future MXoN bids by Team New Zealand.

This year it was the six-rider team representing Team Green Kawasaki that stole the honours in the popular domestic event, Rotorua’s Jonathan Martelli (MX1), Tauranga’s Josiah Natzke (MX2), Hawera’s Daryl Hurley (Veteran), Morrinsville’s Jarrod Hannon (Junior 250cc), Te Puke’s Flynn Watts (Junior 125cc) and Mangakino’s Maz Parkes (Junior 85cc) combining brilliantly to seal the main prize by seven points from the Alpinestars Team.

Natzke and Hurley have both in the past represented New Zealand at the MXoN in Europe and the United States and it was perhaps their experience at this popular international clash that gave Team Green Kawasaki an edge on Friday.

The runner-up Alpinestars team comprised Mount Maunganui pair Rhys Carter (MX1) and Cody Cooper (Veteran), Taupo’s Cohen Chase (MX2), New Plymouth’s Rian King (Junior 250cc), Levin’s Phoenix van Dusschoten (Junior 125cc) and Napier’ Boston Scott (Junior 85cc).

Cooper and Carter had also formerly been MXoN riders for New Zealand in past years.

In the junior/senior breakdown, Team Green Kawasaki topped the junior rankings, while the Alpinestars team headed the senior rankings, but, most significantly, it was the men in green who won the contest overall.

Kawasaki New Zealand’s managing director Shane Verhoeven, the team manager on Friday, was naturally thrilled with the outcome his riders achieved.

“It was a challenge with COVID that’s for sure. We had a couple of riders stuck at the border and we had to recruit at the last minute to fill the gaps. But it worked out well and I’m over the moon with the team.

“Actually it was the juniors that pulled us through and we were second overall in the senior grade too. When you see riders like Cody Cooper and Daryl Hurley riding in the veterans’ grade just shows how fast the older guys were today.

“Kawasaki on top … hey, let the good times roll.”

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan,