Supercross

Supercross hits Auckland

Author: Andy McGechan

Posted:

Auckland will hope the skies are clear this Saturday, because the stars will certainly be out over the city that night. The TelstraClear Events Centre in Manukau will host the Fox Supercross, the third of four rounds in the New Zealand Supercross Championships series, featuring a galaxy of motorcycle stars from the United States, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand. Significantly, it will be the first time in 18 years ‰ÛÒ not since Carlaw Park in 1989 -- that New Zealand‰Ûªs largest city has hosted a supercross, an extreme version of motocross that has its roots in the massive stadiums of the United States but has since become hugely popular worldwide. A New Zealander, Taupo‰Ûªs Ben Townley, raced his way to glory when winning the US East Coast Lites Supercross series on his Kawasaki last season. And it will be an American Kawasaki rider who will arrive just for this one event who hopes to return the favour. Connecticut rider Billy Ainsworth, a rising star on the AMA circuit in America, will ride for the Auckland-based Kawasaki Team West Red Baron squad and he is entered in both the open class, on a KX450F, and the Lites (small bike) class, on a KX250F. However, with just this one of our rounds at which to make his mark, it‰Ûªs impossible for the 22-year-old Ainsworth to win a title in New Zealand this season. Those honours are likely to go to Kiwi riders in the Suzuki Team. National 500cc motocross champion Daryl Hurley (Hawera) has been unbeaten in the open class thus far, taking his Suzuki RM-Z450 to the top of the podium at both the earlier rounds, in Motueka and in Tokoroa last month. Hurley‰Ûªs main rival is fellow Team Suzuki rider Scott Columb, but South Islander Columb is 18 points behind his team boss and will need a superhuman effort to overtake the in-form Hurley. Taupo‰Ûªs Nick Saunders (Kawasaki) is close behind in third and, although Australian Justin Carafa (KTM) and Scotsman Neil Flockhart (Yamaha) have raced just one of the series‰Ûª opening two rounds, they are placed fifth and sixth respectively in the open class standings and are both likely to move up at the Manukau event. Australian rising star Tye Symmonds (KTM) will also make a one-off appearance at Manukau. The 15-year-old will have his first race against senior riders at the Fox Supercross. Queenstown‰Ûªs Columb, just back from a season racing the world motocross championships in Europe, may have better luck in the Lites class where he leads the points, albeit by just a solitary point from a third Team Suzuki rider, Hawera‰Ûªs Luke Burkhart. Third in the Lites standings is Hamilton Kawasaki ace Jesse Wiki and his recent form shows he will be a threat at Manukau. The supercross at Manukau will be on virgin territory, the stadium course constructed just for the one event, on the land beside the TelstraClear Events Centre. ‰ÛÏThis is a chance for spectators to see the whole track from one spot,‰Û

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