Cooper, Columb take early champs honours
The first blows have been struck in this season's New Zealand Motocross Championships and the competition is reeling.
Mount Maunganui's Cody Cooper and Queenstown's Scotty Columb have staked their claims for national honours, while Otago's Courtney Duncan has made a strong point after the first of four rounds in the series.
Suzuki's Cooper, on 67 points, has built a nine-point advantage in the chase for MX1 (450cc) class honours, while Yamaha's Columb has leapt to a 10-point lead in the MX2 (250cc) category after round one in Pleasant Point, near Timaru, on Sunday.
Cooper finished 2-1-3 in his three outings to head off joint runners-up Billy MacKenzie (Yamaha), of Scotland, and Kirk Gibbs (KTM), of Australia.
Defending MX1 champion Ben Townley (Honda), of Tauranga, convincingly won the day's opening MX1 race but then crashed out of the event.
He was taken to hospital and later released, battered and bruised but otherwise intact.
Hawera's semi-retired multi-time former national motocross and supercross champion, Daryl Hurley (Suzuki), managed 9-5-6 results on Sunday.
He is sixth overall in the standings after round one.
In the MX2 class, Columb finished 1-2-1 to edge out defending champion Darryll King (Yamaha), of Hamilton, and Australian first-time visitor Brock Winston (KTM).
In the 125cc class, Palmerston teen sensation Duncan (Yamaha) dominated the races and then promptly revealed she would not be available to contest the remaining rounds as international duty beckoned.
The 17-year-old will next race in the United States.
However, Sunday's caning of the top Kiwi boys will be a confidence boost.
Sunday's 125cc class runner-up, Rotorua's Cameron Vaughan (Yamaha), and third-ranked finisher Logan Blackburn (Yamaha), of Te Puke, will have an extra incentive to push for wins in the next round at Patetonga in a fortnight, with the championship lead there for the taking.
Taranaki Daily News