JULY 4, 2018: The Australian Motocross Championships nudged past the halfway mark at the weekend with Kiwi riders continuing to press their claims for a share of the silverware.

West Auckland-based former Takaka rider Hamish Harwood is certainly one New Zealand competitor who would fancy his chances of stealing away with a national title across the Tasman Sea this year.

Supported by Davey Motorsports KTM Team in Australia, the three-time and current New Zealand MX2 (250cc) champion (pictured here) took his CML KTM Racing Team two-stroke bike to qualify fourth fastest and then followed that by scoring two solid top-10 results at the sixth round of 10 in the Australian national series at Conondale, 50 kilometres west of Caloundra, in Queensland, on Sunday.

The 23-year-old from Royal Heights took his 2018-model KTM 250SX to finish sixth and fourth in his two MX2 races at Conondale, those results enabling him to maintain a grip on the runner-up position in the championship standings.

He is currently 48 points adrift of Australian rider Wilson Todd, with just four rounds (eight races) now remaining, but 35 points available for each race win.

“I really struggled at Conondale. The track was so slick and slippery,” said Harwood.

“I’m happy to be able to hold on to second in the standings and, if I can get some better starts, I’ll be right there at the end of the series.

“I’m on the pace with the race winners and I’ve been on the podium in Australia three times this season, so if I can get a couple of good results I might be able to move up. There are some pretty fast guys behind me though too, so I’ll need to be on my A game.”

It has already been a massive season for Harwood and it’s possible that it may get even bigger before the end of the year.

He made it three consecutive New Zealand MX2 Championship title wins in a row in March and, just last month, he was named on the six-rider short-list of candidates to represent New Zealand at the annual Motocross of Nations (MXoN) in the United States in October.

That list will eventually be reduced to three core riders to eventually race the MXoN event – regarded as the Olympic Games of motocross – something that Harwood has previously been selected to do on three memorable occasions in the past. He raced for Team New Zealand when the MXoN was held in England last season.

Meanwhile, fellow Kiwi riders Rhys Carter (Complete Parts Kawasaki Race Team) and Maximus Purvis (Altherm JCR Yamaha) also stood out at Conondale at the weekend.

Mount Maunganui’s Carter finished the day seventh overall in MX1 class (after finishing sixth and seventh in his two races on Sunday) and he is currently seventh in the series standings, while Mangakino’s Purvis finished fifth overall (after finishing 11th and 1st) in the MX Development (under-19 years) class on Sunday and he is third in the standings for that class.

Next up on the Australian Nationals race calendar is a double-header, with rounds seven and eight on consecutive days, at Raymond Terrace in New South Wales, on July 14 and 15.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan,