The newly-formed team made up of MX1 riders Hamilton’s Kayne Lamont and Australian Kirk Gibbs, plus MX2 riders Mangakino’s Maximus Purvis and 2019 British Motocross MX2 Championship-winner Dylan Walsh had mixed fortunes at the big, annual, stand-alone motocross weekend, which doubles as a FIM Oceania event.
Purvis (19) came out tops with a win in his category – demonstrating he is a force to be reckoned with for the four-round Fox New Zealand Motocross Championships, which begin this weekend in Balclutha.
After wet practise and qualifying sessions, Purvis got a good start in the first race, working his way to the front from fourth position.
“Then I pulled a comfortable gap and maintained it for the rest of the race,” Purvis says.
He succinctly summed up his second race: “Got the holeshot and gapped out.”
A third in the final race was enough to give him the overall MX2 win, in what was an impressive first race outing after recovering from an ankle injury.
“Overall, I’m really happy with my starts and speed and I’m looking forward to round one of the nationals,” Purvis says.
Altherm JCR Yamaha team manager Josh Coppins was unable to attend due to overseas Yamaha commitments, but kept close tabs on his riders, in what was the 59th running of the Woodville event.
“Max has been off with an injury and it was good to see him get a win straight off the bat for his first race back with us, as last time he raced for us was in March,” Coppins says.
Sunshine Coast-based Gibbs has returned for his second season with Altherm JCR Yamaha and although he found the slippery track conditions challenging, he has also staked his claim as a 2020 nationals front-runner. His 2-2-1 set of results gave him the runner-up position in the flagship MX1 class.
“In the first moto, I didn’t get off the line very well at all and had to come from pretty much dead last. I actually felt really comfortable on the bike, made some good progress on the leaders and then got into second. Then I got right onto the back of first for the last lap but just ran out of time,” Gibbs says.
The track had been watered before the second race and he “struggled a little bit trying to push hard when the track was drying out.”
“I got into second, then just as I got into the lead Hamish Harwood passed me. He could turn off a few things a little bit better than me until the track started to dry out towards the end of the race and then I got right back on him but couldn’t pass,” Gibbs says.
In the final race he settled into second behind Harwood.
“I sat there for a little bit but started to inch up. He made a little mistake down the back and I got through and rode it home for a win. All in all, I felt very good and felt good on the bike. My starts can definitely be better and I’ve got to work on those this week and then I’ll come out swinging for round one,” Gibbs concludes.
Coppins says Gibbs hasn’t raced since August, “so he needed some track time.”
“He came through in the first race from a stalled start, to finish second, which was a great ride – only under one second off the win. He’s quite happy with his speed and results after a four-month break,” he adds.
After recently being signed by Ben Townley Tours and racing as a satellite rider with the Altherm JCR Yamaha team, 22-year-old Walsh was keen to make an impression back on home soil.
A mixed bag of results saw him claim 4-5-4 as he settled into competitive racing on his Yamaha YZ250F.
“It was a rough start to the New Zealand racing, although it was good to learn the bike all weekend and make changes. The best race I had was the last moto, despite having a fall. I’ve got to take the positives from it and the fact I’ve got the bike set-up a lot better for next weekend,” Walsh says.
Coppins believes Walsh probably heaped a fair amount of pressure on himself.
“Dylan was a little bit rusty and made some mistakes but he had good speed. The potential is there – he got a holeshot and led some laps. I think he’ll be a whole lot better this weekend. No doubt he’s frustrated with himself and I know Ben [Townley] is working hard with him to get him to calm down and enjoy it,” Coppins says.
After an injury-free build-up to the season, Lamont had a first race that every rider dreads - crashing heavily early on.
“I got the holeshot in race one and crashed after the second turn on one of the jumps, which sent me out for the day. I went to hospital and I’ve got no broken bones but I do have a haematoma on my bottom and a slightly bruised lung. My bike was good and I was feeling good. Hopefully I can get out on the race track again soon and put in some good results,” he says.
Coppins thinks it’s highly unlikely Lamont will be able to ride at least at Balclutha as his bruising is extensive and is currently being monitored to make sure it stops bleeding.
“That obviously puts him out of the MX1 championship hunt, which is a shame. I honestly felt he was ready to win. We’d worked hard to get him ready.”
“That means it falls back onto Kirk – so that’s a good back stop. I’m looking forward to working with him and making some improvements this week while he’s staying with me in Motueka. We’ll do some testing and iron out any issues for this weekend.”
“A first and fourth in MX2 and second in MX1 is not too bad. Obviously we’ve had better Woodville GPs but it’s a fairly solid start heading into round one,” Coppins wraps up. The forecast is looking wet for the week in Balclutha and potentially over the weekend in the small South Island township.
“I’m looking forward to coming home and being at the race track as I missed the two New Zealand Superbike rounds and this weekend at Woodville,” Coppins, who is the Yamaha Motor New Zealand Motorsport Manager, says.