The building blocks are in place and now the high-profile Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team will look ahead to strengthening its position as a title contender in two separate classes at this year’s motocross nationals.
It could be considered “the one that got away” for Josh Coppins and his Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team after team riders Dean Ferris and Dylan Walsh finished Sunday’s opening round of the New Zealand Motocross Championships in second place in their respective MX1 and MX2 (250cc) classes.
But Coppins was philosophical about the two results, and by the outcomes achieved by his team’s other riders too – Mangakino’s Kayne Lamont, Otago’s Courtney Duncan and Waitakere’s Ethan Martens.
“We’re right there, near the front,” Coppins shrugged at the end of a brutal day of racing on a rapidly-drying circuit at Pleasant Point, near Timaru, on Sunday.
Much was expected from Ferris after his winning ride at the big annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville a week earlier and he did again deliver the goods, leading the MX1 class at Timaru after the first two of his three races on Sunday.
But it all turned to custard in the third and deciding race, with Ferris the victim of some first-turn aggression, a sharp knock shunting the Gold Coast rider into the dirt.
Suddenly finding himself in last place, Ferris re-mounted his Yamaha YZ450F and set out after the disappearing bunch, his prospects all the more daunting because main rival and defending New Zealand champion Cody Cooper was in clear air at the front of the field.
But it was an inspirational performance from Ferris, who checked past rider after rider and he recovered his way back up to eighth by the end of lap one.
The action just got hotter and the racing harder after that as he caught up to the fastest of the MX1 competitors, although he did manage to fight his way into third position with the end of the race in sight. He then crashed again and dropped back to eventually settle for fourth place.
Cooper finished 1-3-1 in the three MX1 class outings and this was enough to give him a five-point gap over Ferris, who lodged a 2-1-4 score-card.
Third best in this premier grade was Mount Maunganui’s Rhys Carter, who scored 3-2-3 results.
Ferris’ MX1 class team-mate Lamont managed eighth overall.
Meanwhile, in the MX2 class, 19-year-old Walsh had his work cut out battling with defending national champion and fellow Kiwi international Hamish Harwood. Takapuna-based Harwood scored a hat-trick of wins, but Walsh kept him honest, posting a 3-2-2 score-card.
Walsh’s Yamaha team-mate Martens managed fourth overall for the day, while women’s world championship contender Duncan had a disappointing day by her own high standards, tangled up in traffic and crashes but still finishing ninth overall in the talent-packed 40-rider class.
“It was a pretty good day for the team really,” said Coppins. “It was a difficult track on which to pass other riders and we can look ahead to the rest of the series and building on these results.”
The competition now heads to Rotorua for round two in just over two weeks' time, on February 19.
Round three is set for Palmerston North on March 12, with the fourth and final round at Taupo on March 25.
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]www.workshopgraphics.co.nz, Motoseat, Hammerhead, SKF, Vertex Pistons, Rtech Plastics, Etnies, Biketranz and Fulton Hogan.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com