Wednesday 12th & Thursday 13th December: Tracks closed. The rain up here in the hills keeps coming.

Honda Line-Up Will Have Rivals Seeing Red

2014-2015 Season

maddix park mx

CAPTION: The Honda Shop Racing Team line-up for 2014-15 will be (from left) John Phillips, Cody Cooper and Aaron Wiltshier. Photo by Geoff Osborne.

OCTOBER 10, 2014: Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com

It is going to be a long, hot summer of motocross in 2015 ... especially for anyone lining up to battle the men from Honda.

The Honda Shop Racing Team will feature three key riders this year – Mount Maunganui’s defending national MX1 class champion Cody Cooper joined in the MX1 class by fellow Kiwi international John Phillips, of Rotorua, both of them riding the mighty CRF450 machine, with new signing Aaron Wiltshier, of Tauranga, climbing aboard the team’s CRF250 to tackle the MX2 (250cc) class.

In addition, there has been a change in management too, as last season’s team boss, former world motocross champion Ben Townley, steps aside for Waikato’s Phil Empson.

With Empson taking on the role of team manager, it adds an extra string to the Honda bow as it frees up Townley to return to the race track as a rider “for selected race meetings”.

“Our main goal, of course, is to retain the No.1 plate in the MX1 class, but we have a line-up that is very capable of winning titles in all three categories,” said Empson.

“We have retained all our sponsors from last season and it is fantastic to see them continuing their support. It certainly gives us confidence to push on.

“It will be the first year on the CRF450 for John Phillips and we see him as a development rider in MX1, although there’s no reason to suggest he won’t win races in his debut MX1 year either.

“Wiltshier has huge potential and his transformation from riding the 125cc two-stroke last season to the 250cc four-stroke has been phenomenal.

 “We hope it will be business as usual for Cody (Cooper, who has won the national MX1 title the past two consecutive seasons).”

Townley was national MX1 champion for Honda the season prior to that, in 2012, and his part-time return to racing this season is eagerly awaited.

“I will continue my role as ambassador for Honda, but will now be free to return to some racing and spend a little more time with my growing family,” said 29-year-old father-of-three Townley.

 “I will be able to race at the annual Burt Munro Challenge ... that’s one of those things I’ve always wanted to do ... and also compete at some other motocross events over the summer too. I want to race the Tarawera 100 (cross-country marathon near Kawerau) and defend my 2014 win there and again ride in the river race at the Honda New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville in January.

“There have been a few big changes to the bikes this year too, which I’m quite excited about,” said Townley.

“The forks and front brakes have been upgraded and Honda has done a lot of homework on the engine package too. There is an ‘engine select’ mode, which means a rider can change from ‘standard’ to ‘smooth’ or ‘aggressive’ right at their finger-tips.”

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

 

 
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