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29 Jan 2017
The big annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville is a big occasion on the Kiwi motorcycling calendar and this year’s 56th edition of the event was no different.
It was a case of champions galore at this year’s edition of the popular stand-alone event, but, when it was all boiled down, it was Australian Dean Ferris who took the most prestigious silverware, the Yamaha rider clinching the Senior Feature Race trophy at the event for a second consecutive season.
It was remarkable when he won it on debut at Woodville last season, and perhaps no less significant this time around because he was facing a deeper and even more impressive line-up of talented individuals, many of whom were talented fellow-Australians he’d expect to face in the Australian nationals later this year.
Ferris, the 2016 Australian open class motocross champion, took his Altherm JCR Yamaha YZ450F to finish 4-1-2 in his three MX1 class outings, losing out to fellow Australian Todd Waters in that high-octane battle for MX1 class honours – Waters finishing with a 3-2-1 score-card – but Ferris again won the race that really mattered, the invitation feature race, and so the annual event’s main spoils belonged to him.
New Zealand MX1 champion Cody Cooper, of Mount Maunganui, led from the start of the feature race, but Ferris was soon challenging for the lead and took over the front spot on lap two.
Cooper then dropped back when a slow-starting Waters powered through from fourth place to snatch the No.2 position, and this is how it remained until, the end, with another Australian visitor, Jed Beaton (Honda CRF450) eventually pushing through to claim fourth spot and Mount Maunganui’s Rhys Carter rounding out the top five.
“It’s fantastic to win this trophy for a second time,” said the 26-year-old Ferris, from Kyogle on the Gold Coast.
“My trip to New Zealand is all about building up for the Australian nationals and so this was a great way to start that.
“Lapped riders got in my way (while I was leading) in the final MX1 class race of the day. It was really hard to avoid them and Todd (Waters) got past me, so I had to accept second place. I’m happy with how I rode, but I always want to win and so I was disappointed with that.
“That’s not bad, though, because it was my first big race of the year. My speed is very good and I’m looking forward now to the first round of the New Zealand Motocross Championships (in Timaru) this coming weekend.”
Others to impress at Woodville were MX2 (250cc) class winner Dylan Walsh (Yamaha YZ250F), the 19-year-old Christchurch rider having only just arrived back in New Zealand after two and a half years of racing in the United States.
Walsh shaded fellow Kiwi internationals Josiah Natzke (Hamilton) and Hamish Harwood (Takapuna), winning the MX2 class from Natzke by just one point.
The senior 125cc class was also a tight battle, although Mangakino Yamaha rider Maximus Purvis did enough with his 1-1-3 score-line to edge out Australian Mason Semmons, who finished 2-2-1, and Karaka’s Kurtis Lilly, who managed 3-3-2 results.
Another visiting Australian, Cody Dyce, was unbelievably quick for a 16-year-old. Dyce took his Yamaha YZ250F to dominate the junior 14-16 years 250cc class at Woodville on Saturday and then he backed that up by finishing fifth overall – behind Walsh, Natzke, Harwood and fellow Australian Wilson Todd (Yamaha) – in the MX2 class on Sunday.
Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team boss Josh Coppins was naturally thrilled with the weekend’s results.
“This is just what we needed with the nationals set to kick off next weekend,” he said.
“I had let the riders know that I wasn’t pleased with our efforts at the Whakatane Summercross (just after Christmas) and this today was their response.
“It was a very difficult track today and all the riders suffered with ‘arm pump’. Across the board it was a great weekend for Yamaha,” he said.
“We are feeling very positive heading towards (the first round of the nationals now at) Timaru next weekend.”
The Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing team is supported by Altherm Window Systems, Yamaha, JCR, CRC, Ados, GYTR, Yamalube, Fox Racing, Hollands Collision Centre, Star Moving, Ward Demolition, Fulton Hogan, Pirelli, FMF, DID, NGK, Matrix, Renthal, Motomuck, www.workshopgraphics.co.nz, Motoseat, Hammerhead, SKF, Vertex Pistons, Rtech Plastics, Etnies, Biketranz and Fulton Hogan.