Riding their respective Yamahas in the series’ penultimate round at Ngaruroro Raceway, near Fernhill, they are the men with the upper hand in their title hunts, when the championship wraps up in Taupo, in a fortnight.
Sunshine Coast-based Gibbs was untouchable in the premier class on his YZ450 - qualifying first and winning three from three races. The top-notch results give him a 5-point lead over defending champion Cody Copper and 29-point buffer over Hamish Harwood in third.
“It was a really good day for me. I’ll go home and work on some more things that Josh [Coppins – Team Manager] and BT [Ben Townley] gave me to work on. It’s so helpful to have such good people to get information from,” Gibbs says.
He was stoked to have the points lead and had a clear plan for the final set of three races on March 15. “I’ll go there with a good mindset and put a couple of good races in and try to bring it home,” he says of the MX1 silverware that belonged to him in 2018.
Altherm JCR Yamaha Team Manager Josh Coppins says Gibbs has all the hallmarks of a “true professional.” “We work hard for him and he works hard for us. We’re very happy with his performance.
Good starts, good riding and three from three. He came in from 6 points down and goes away 5 points up, so he achieved an 11-point swing.”
Purvis went 2-1-4, with the final race result slightly lower after the 19-year-old Mangakino flyer crashed on the last lap, while in second.
“He was trying to pass for the lead, and it cost him 4 points, which was a shame. He’s just a young fella and maybe should’ve settled for second and come out with an 8-point lead rather than 4 points but you’ve also got to admire him trying to make the pass. He finished second for the day, went from 8 points behind to 4 points ahead [of Josiah Natzke] in the championship and took the red plate, which is exciting,” Coppins says.
Purvis adds: “It definitely feels good to be leading the points going into the last round. I’ve been trying to chip away at it and now I just have to finish it off with some good results at Taupo.”
Christchurch’s Dylan Walsh displayed some of the form that saw the 22-year-old crowned the British Motocross Championship’s MX2 winner last year, with a 4-2-1 results’ set on his Yamaha YZ250F.
“Round three was a big improvement for me. We made huge changes during the week on the suspension and it paid off. I was able to get the round win and show what I was capable of,” Walsh says.
Coppins says the changes to Walsh’s Yamaha helped make him “much more comfortable and straight away achieve a better result.”
“We have a lot of work to do in the next two weeks. Together with Ben [Townley] and Dylan, we will have some meetings to work out a clear plan moving forward. Dylan is sitting fourth in the championship but what’s most important for us and for him, is that he is starting to find his groove with Yamaha, and he got an overall win. It was harder and took longer than we expected but I’m happy for him to get there,” he adds.
Altherm JCR Yamaha’s second MX1 rider Hamilton’s Kayne Lamont suffered another niggling injury, which hampered his performance. He hurt his thumb in practice and alternated between trying to strap it and leaving it unsupported, as he struggled through a painful three races, finishing fourth each time.
“Overall my day was another survival day. My glute injury [incurred at the Woodville GP] is pretty decent now and I’m not having too many problems with it. I’m just fighting small injuries most rounds, which is quite frustrating,” Lamont says.
Coppins describes the Fernhill track as “really challenging.”
“It got very rough and technical with deep ruts, but it really suited our riders, with a lot of lines available. I expected a good result at this track and was happy we were able to execute one.” “
The final race was red flagged, and the results were taken as they stood due to an accident.
Our Altherm JCR Yamaha team wishes the injured rider a speedy recovery,” Coppins concludes.
1st Kirk Gibbs (YZ450) - 75
2nd Cody Cooper – 64
3rd Hamish Harwood - 62
4th Kayne Lamont (YZ450) - 54
5th Brad Groombridge - 46
1st Dylan Walsh (YZ250F) - 65
2nd Maximus Purvis (YZ250F) - 65
3rd James Scott - 58
4th Josiah Natzke- 53
5th Caleb Ward - 53