Motocross

World vet champs beckon Tony Cooksley

Author: Alan Henderson

Posted:

Yamaha New Zealand's 'ambassador' for motocross, Tony Cooksley, from Ramarama, has been racing dirt bikes since 1974. He first rode to prominence at the New Zealand Motocross Championships in 1982. He was leading when he crashed, smashing his throttle housing 300 metres from home and had to settle for 2nd.
Got enough baggage Tony ?
In 2006 Tony Cooksley had an entry to the first ever FIM World Vets in Namur, Belgium on the premise that he had won two AMA (American) Vet Champ titles, in 1996 and 1998. At that inaugural event Tony was 8th overall in a field that was full of younger Vets - some of whom were ex GP riders. Tony tells the story: "Initially it was like it is here - Vets 40 to 49 years and you move up to the next class at 50. The FIM made it a '50 and under Class' and you go into the next class at 51. No explanation has ever been given why the change however it was the same for everyone. I was one of the oldest at 50 and most of those riding were in their early 40's and mostly ex GP riders - guys you read about in factory teams and still very competitive. Whilst they said it was not serious the top guys were very, very serious. I was 7 seconds quicker than any of the other +51 riders on a YZ450 but I knew I could be even quicker on the more nimble YZ250 two stroke." Tony said. "Even though I finished 8th in the class I was still a little disappointed because I knew I could go quicker. The top part of the track, on the promenade, was a bit 'supercrossy' with a table top, double, double, double and turned into a set of whoops. I struggled quite a lot on the 450 - I just couldn't do it - I was losing 6 or 7 seconds in there - on the back part of the track I was as fast as anyone but can't see it being a problem on a 250 two stroke." Tony is en-route from Dubai to Frankfurt with his brother Grant - the 'famed' Jockey. They will be met by Clevedon's Jan Doeksen and will drive across to the Czech Republic to support Josh Coppins who rides at Loket this Sunday at Round 11 of the 15 round World Championship. Josh 'enjoys' a 107 points lead which is worth two of the five rounds to go. "We are doing what we did last year" said Tony. "From Frankfurt we drive to Prague and a place nearby called Cavalarri, the nearest town to Loket. It is the most beautiful city. Last year we went to the training day and on the Friday to watch the technical inspections and a look around the track. On the Saturday the timed training and qualification and on Sunday the GP. Loket is a stoney rough track - we thought it would be fast like Harrisville but it has quite large gravel 20-30ml and sandy." "Then we will drive back to Holland and then across to Belgium and get ready for Namur on 05 August. Jan makes it all too easy as he knows where to go and what to do. Especially with him driving it takes the pressure off me. Being a former GP sponsor he knows the 'ins and outs' of what to do plus he speaks the languages. Again we will also be looked after superbly by Greg Atkins who is in charge of track design for Youthstream." "With the insurances I am restricted where I can train so I will train at a track called Hondaland - big sand track owned by Eric Gaboers. George, who is European mechanic for Bike It / Dixon Racing will look after my bike. Most of the riders live in Belgium and he looks after their practice bikes and helps out on GP dates." "This year there is a second round and that will be in the UK three weeks later on 26 August at DonningtonPark. Josh said that between he and George they will sort my bike as they have the Ireland GP the week before Donnington." Tony has been training extensively on the bike on both sand and hard pack tracks - from Grant Leighton's sand track at South Head and down as far as Taupo. It is actually a massive undertaking and it just does not happen on it's own so there are many who should be thanked. åá Yamaha NZ have organised the 'Yamaha Ambassador' with a YZ250 two stroke via Yamaha Europe and it being delivered to Josh Coppins for Tony's use. åá Peter Payne from Yamaha NZ also undertook getting Tony there and home. åá Emirates Airline have been of great assistance with travel and all the baggage - spare parts. åá Motorcycling NZ have assisted with a cash grant and helped him with the documentation. Tony is the first with the new MNZ representative race shirt as pictured. åá Tony is a Life Member of the Pukekohe Motorcycle Club who gave him a cash grant towards his costs. åá Tony is wearing Thor AC race gear. åá Airoh helmet like Josh's, through ProMoto in Taupo. åá Alpinstars race boots through Crown Kiwi. åá Cannon Signage Concepts (CSC) have printed HH Media's Silver Fern derivative design onto his race shirts. In ten days time we will know the results. I know you all wish him the very best. Maine Photo: Cooksley at work
Credit: Alan Hendersen

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