OCTOBER 31, 2022:
It was perhaps appropriate that Kawasaki riders Courtney Duncan and Cody Cooper dominated proceedings in two of the key categories at the 2022 New Zealand Veterans’ and Women’s Motocross Championships at the weekend.
The popular annual event – which skipped a beat last year due to the pandemic – was sponsored by Kawasaki New Zealand and so emerald seemed to be “la couleur du jour” (the colour of the day) with many riders of the distinctive green bikes showing up at the track near Cambridge to put on a spectacular show of force.
Headlining the event was Otago’s triple women’s world champion Courtney Duncan, briefly at home following her blighted-by-injury 2022 campaign in Europe.
The defending world champion and factory Kawasaki team rider had been forced to accept an unfamiliar seventh overall finish this season after crashing out of racing at round two in Portugal back in April.
Duncan fractured her collarbone when she slipped off awkwardly on the second lap of the first practice session on day one of the Portuguese GP and the track doctor declined permission for her to continue. Her 2022 title defence was suddenly in tatters and there was eventually no coming back from that.
Therefore, her arrival at the Skyline MX track at Te Miro, on the outskirts of Cambridge, at the weekend was a rare but welcome New Zealand appearance for the now fully-recovered Kawasaki ace.
The large crowd at Cambridge certainly appreciated seeing the 26-year-old Duncan (KX250) on home soil and her speed and style was both dazzling and undeniable.
She won all three of her senior women’s class races on Saturday, despite crashing twice in race two, heading off teenage former Australian champion Taylah McCutcheon (Honda) and Tauranga’s recently-crowned British women’s motocross champion Roma Edwards (Honda), with defending New Zealand women’s champion Amie Roberts (Yamaha), from Hamilton, and Bridgestone Kawasaki Racing Team rider from Otorohanga, Zara Gray, rounding out the top five.
“It’s still about five months away from my 2023 season kick-off in Europe, so this event in Cambridge is not really part of my build-up for that,” she explained.
“It’s just that I’m home and the dates aligned for me and Kawasaki is the main sponsor here, so it was important to show up for them.
“It’s so cool to see the depth of talent here in the women’s grades and the sheer numbers too. When I grew up and started racing there wasn’t even a dedicated women’s class. So to see the numbers and the growth in the sport from when I started is phenomenal. Hopefully it can keep rising.”
It was a similarly dominant performance from Cody Cooper, racing his KX450F in the veteran men’s 35-39 years’ class.
The Bridgestone Kawasaki Racing Team rider continued on from his outright MX1 class win at the season-opening MX Fest event in Taupo a week earlier, this time fending off former national MX1 champion Justin McDonald (Honda), from Christchurch, and Raetihi’s Richard Horne (Kawasaki), on his way to an impressive hat-trick of wins.
The weekend’s event had been scheduled for two days, but torrential rain overnight on Saturday forced the organisers to abandon day two.
Other class winners at the weekend were Morrinsville’s Kieran Leigh (vets 30-34 years’ class); Tauranga’s Peter Broxholme (vets 40-44 years’ class); Te Awamutu’s Mark Penny (vets 45-49 years’ class); Whakatane’s Darren Capill (vets 50-54 years’ class); New Plymouth’s Mitch Rowe (vets 55-59 years’ class); Taupiri’s Mark Fuller (vets over-60 years’ class); Te Awamutu’s Graham Adams (vets over-70 years’ class); Raetihi’s Karaitiana Horne (junior women 125-250cc class); Matamata’s Penny Lang (junior women 85cc class); Blenheim’s Stacey Emms (vets women 30-39 years’ class) and Cambridge’s Sandra Hannon (vets women over-40 years’ class).
Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com