Motorcycles

Harwood Simply a 'Machine' at Series Opener

Harwood Simply a 'Machine' at Series Opener

RIGHT: With three wins from three starts in the MX2 class on Sunday, Takaka's Hamish Harwood (CML KTM) has shown he'll again be a force to be reckoned with this season. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

FEBRUARY 7, 2017: Takaka's Hamish Harwood could fairly be described as an extreme athlete.

Now based in Takapuna where he is working as an apprentice builder, the 21-year-old from Takaka, near Nelson, was simply awesome at the opening round of the New Zealand Motocross Championships near Timaru on Sunday.

The track was its typically brutal best, slippery mud turning into "blue grooved" hard-pack by late afternoon, but, even in the 29-degree heat, the CML KTM team rider never backed off and, in fact, lined up for twice as many races as any other rider.

Most impressively, he achieved the perfect clean sweep of wins in the MX2 (250cc) class.

The defending champion in that class, Harwood was always going to be among those favoured to win on Sunday, but his dominance was so complete that his rivals must have been left wondering what they can do to stop him taking the title again this season.

Although Harwood (KTM 250SX) scored a hat-trick of wins in the MX2 class, he wasn't stopping there, taking a 300cc cross-country version of the two-stroke KTM – the KTM 300XC – to finish with a 7-8-8 score-card in the MX1 class as well, good enough for seventh overall on the day in that class.

Mount Maunganui's defending MX1 champion Cody Cooper (Honda CRF450) leads the MX1 class after this first round.

Both classes were stacked with internationals and Harwood was naturally thrilled to have started his campaign so brightly.

"I felt really confident coming into the weekend. I believe I could have gone faster on a four-stroke bike, but the two-stroke was the weapon to have to nail the starts and that was important too," he revealed.

"I've got a headache now because of the heat and I'm a bit dehydrated. I need to eat and drink more during the day I think."

His CML KTM team-mate, Taihape's Hayden Smith, was also impressive on Sunday, the just-turned 16-year-old finishing 1-2-1 to win the 125cc class at Timaru.

His nearest rival was Karaka's Kurtis Lilly (Husqvarna TC125), who finished 2-1-2 and he therefore trails Smith by three points after this opening round.

"In the second race I was caught napping and didn't react quickly enough when the gate dropped. I was about eighth or ninth through turn one but got up to second within two laps.

"It was really hard to pass on this track. There was really only one good line in most places. You'd have had to go nuts to make passes in some places and it simply wasn't worth the risk.

"I learned a lot after last weekend (at the New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville), where I won the first two races but then crashed in the third and lost out on the day."

Smith is also a building apprentice and works alongside Harwood in Auckland, with the two young men also training together and urging one another along.

It could be that two national champions emerge from the same CML KTM race team and the same Rucon Construction workplace this season.

The national championship competition now heads to Rotorua for round two in 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.

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com



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