Rider suffers suspected broken back
There were plenty of thrills and spills at the first round of the New Zealand Motocross Championships but the cream still came to the top at the Backflips Track, near Pleasant Point.
In the MX1 class defending champion Ben Townley won the first race but then came to grief on the opening lap of the second race, coming off and sustaining a suspected fracture to his back.
Townley was taken to hospital as the international class track took its toll and the temperatures soared well into the 30s, making it a case of survival of the fittest.
Australian Todd Waters had to stand for the 10 laps of the second race after his bike appeared to have a suspension problem.
He battled bravely but had to retire on the final lap. He bounced back to win the third race.
With all the action happening around him, Mt Maunganui's Cody Cooper's win in the second race, along with a second and third placing on the day was enough to see him depart track with the championship lead.
His 67-point haul was nine better than Scotsman Billy Mackenzie and Australian Kirk Gibbs.
Timaru Honda's Justin McDonald finished the day just off the podium in fourth place.
There was also plenty of action in the MX2 with Queenstown's Scott Columb winning the first from veteran Darryll King.
The pair came together on the first corner of the second race but Columb recovered better to finish second and King fourth.
Confusion also reigned briefly when the flag marshal showed the white and then chequered flags to the wrong riders but the result stood.
A protest by King came to nothing and the pair faced off in the final race with Columb taking King on the penultimate lap to win, after a poor start saw him down in sixth place.
Columb ended the day with a healthy 10-point lead in the championships , with King one point clear of Brock Winston.
Timaru's Josh May ended in 18th place overall in a field of 28 riders, just short of his goal of the top 15 placing.
A win, second and third saw the talented Courtney Duncan take the lead in the senior 125cc.
She has a three point buffer over Cameron Vaughan with Logan Blackburn just two points adrift in the tightest championship class.
In the MX3 support class Richard Horne leads after taking two wins and a second from Ross Bergius and Tony Cooksley. The South Canterbury Motor Cycle Club would have been happy with the largest crowd in several years turning out for the event.
As the temperatures rose some riders climbed into rubbish bins filled with ice and water to cool down.
The Timaru Herald