Signs are looking ominous for Cody Cooper's rivals ahead of the coming summer season of motocross racing in New Zealand.
The Honda ace opened his 2020-21 season account at the big annual Huka Honda-sponsored MX Fest event in Taupo over the Labour Weekend by winning the SX4 (formerly called Speedcross) stadium-style event on Saturday evening.
He delighted a large crowd with his high-flying prowess as he edged out Hamilton pair Josiah Natzke and Kayne Lamont and Tauranga's Brodie Connolly in the final.
Cooper then backed that up by taking his Motul Honda CRF450 to dominate the MX1 class in the motocross the following day, finishing 5-1-1-1 in his four races.
Because of his unaccustomed fifth placing in race one, it meant he had to claw his way back in the points and needed to be flawless the rest of the event.
And that's exactly what he was.
Although he eventually finished level on points with race-one winner Hamish Harwood, Cooper got the overall nod thanks to the count-back rule, having achieved more race wins.
West Auckland's Harwood reluctantly accepted the No.2 ranking for the event, while Lamont, Mount Maunganui's Rhys Carter and Dunedin's Campbell King rounded out the top five.
Cooper's results proved he will be the man to beat again this summer, with the annual Honda Summercross at Whakatane coming up just after Christmas, then the annual Honda New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville in the New Year, an event that will, for the first time, also double up as the first of four rounds for the 2021 New Zealand Motocross Championships.
"I got caught up at the start in race one. Not a good start on my behalf but then I got jammed in the corner and I was blocked. There were riders going everywhere. There was a massive gap ahead of me to fourth place after that and I just cruised around to the finish," says the 37-year-old Cooper, a multi-time national MX1 champion.
He more than made amends for that disaster in the races that followed and once again stamped his authority on the class.
"We changed a few suspension settings, but even as a stock standard bike it was good to get the job done. I wasn't thinking too much about the points (deficit). I was just doing what I could do and if you do the best you can and execute it, you're going to win aren't you?
"I don't have anything to prove any m ore. I would obviously like to win championships but as long as I'm having fun. My rivals have more to prove than me.
"The new 2021 bike arrives in a few weeks and I'll be riding a lot more frequently than I have been lately. The nationals are not too far away now ... bring it on."
Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com