Whakatane’s Cody Cooper (Honda CRF450), hoping to score Woodville motocross victory No.4 this coming weekend. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

There will be huge numbers on hand to witness as the heat goes on for defending champion Cody Cooper in the first major event of the 2020 motocross season this weekend.

With entries in excess of 550 riders, the obvious popularity and continued growth of the New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville should ensure another bumper weekend of race action on show this coming Saturday and Sunday (January 25-26).

Racing over the two days will attract thousands of spectators to the Tararua region, filling motel rooms and camping grounds to the point of overflowing, the Honda-sponsored event at Woodville proving to be a must-see spectacle for many motorsports enthusiast.

Mount Maunganui man Cooper is the current national MX1 motocross champion and the defending Woodville champion as well, and he arrives in the Manawatu this weekend as the firm favourite to win what is regarded as the biggest stand-alone event on the Kiwi racing calendar.

The national MX1 No.1 won the main Woodville trophy last year and would like nothing better than to repeat the feat on Sunday.

But, even with his pedigree, the 36-year-old Kiwi international knows it won’t be easy and the pressure will be on him to perform at the highest level once again.

Former Woodville GP winner Kirk Gibbs, from Queensland, will likely be Cooper’s main challenger in the battle for MX1 class dominance and for the main Woodville GP title as well.

Motorcycling New Zealand (MNZ) motocross commissioner Ray Broad said he was delighted to see the level of support for the event.

“Entry numbers are up on previous years and I believe that MNZ’s changes to the licensing has contributed to this boost in entries.

“The host Manawatu-Orion Motorcycle Club has put in a lot of work to make this another well-supported event and it will be another extremely successful New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix.”

Cooper has won the premier trophy at Woodville on two other previous occasions, in 2007 and 2014, but past glories will count for little when the start gate drops for the premier MX1 class on Sunday.

Leading Kiwi riders such as Hamilton’s Kayne Lamont – the man who won the coveted Woodville trophy in 2018 – Taupo’s Brad Groombridge, Taupo’s Hadleigh Knight, Te Puke’s Tyler Steiner, Tauranga’s Roydon White and Waitakere’s Ethan Martens, to name just a few, also have good reason to fancy their chances of upsetting Cooper in the MX1 class.

Top Kiwis expected to feature in the 250cc MX2 class include riders such as Christchurch’s Dylan Walsh, Mount Maunganui’s Josiah Natzke, Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis, Oparau’s James Scott, Taupo’s Wyatt Chase, Palmerston North’s Luka Freemantle and Hawera’s Daryl Hurley.

In the senior 125cc class, it is likely that Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly, Otautau’s Jack Treloar, Wairoa’s Tommy Watts, Nelson’s Ethan Waters and Tauranga’s Madoc Dixon will be among the favourites to win at Woodville.

The event looks forward to hosting a large contingent of riders from Australia, although the FIM Oceania sanctioning of the event has now been withdrawn and so, unfortunately, there will no longer be a FIM Oceania Challenge element to the weekend.

Racing over the two days at Woodville caters for minis and juniors on Saturday, while the seniors, veterans and women will race on Sunday.

Vintage motocross bike races will be an additional feature of Sunday’s programme, while the novelty river race on Sunday is also sure to be a major crowd-pleaser.

There will be little rest for many of the riders after Woodville GP wraps up Sunday afternoon, with the first of four rounds in this year’s FOX-sponsored senior New Zealand Motocross Championships kicking off in Balclutha, near Invercargill, just one week later.


2020 FOX New Zealand Motocross Championships calendar:

Round 1 – Balclutha, Saturday, February 1;

Round 2 – Rotorua, Sunday, February 23;

Round 3 – Hawke’s Bay, Sunday, March 1;

Round 4 – Taupo, Sunday, March 15.


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