Bay of Plenty's Cody Cooper has done it again.
The Mount Maunganui rider gave his many local fans a real treat as he was almost unstoppable at the annual Honda Summercross event at Whakatane on Saturday, the last big New Zealand motocross blow-out of the year.
The Honda Racing Team star's winning of the glamour MX1 class didn't come without stress, but “smart riding” handed the “under the weather” 34-year-old national MX1 champion his fourth Summercross victory and his third in a row on Saturday.
Even though debilitated by a head cold, Mount Maunganui's Cooper (Honda Racing Team CRF450) won the first four eight-minute MX1 class races on Saturday and, when he started to fade, his energy sapped by the illness, in the longer fifth and final (15-minute) race of the day, he knew that he really only had to worry about nearest challenger Rhys Carter (Kawasaki KX450F) and fellow Honda racing Team rider John Phillips, of Rotorua.
When Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team rider Kayne Lamont fought through to snatch the lead from Cooper in that final race, Cooper was unconcerned and didn't react either when Carter passed him to take the No.2 spot, relegating him to third.
“I may not be very good at spelling, but I know how to add and I knew, at that stage, that third or fourth in the final race would be good enough to secure the overall victory,” says Cooper.
The race finished in that order – Lamont winning ahead of Carter and Cooper – and the outright Summercross win in the premier MX1 class went to Cooper.
“I've been unwell from the middle of this week and was coughing all the time,” says Cooper.
“I have not been riding much lately and was so wasn't at my best anyway.
“But I did what I needed to do today and got the win. I just had to ride smart.
“I made sure I took maximum points in the four sprint races and then the pressure was off me for the longer final race.”
For Cooper to win this major event, even on a “bad day”, is perhaps the sign of a true champion and his rivals for the national MX1 crown will surely have had their respect for the man reinforced by this result.