Two Tauranga motocross stars are in the United States to compete in The Motocross of Nations – the biggest and brightest motocross event of the year – this weekend.
Tauranga’s Brodie Connolly, and Josiah Natzke – with Waipukurau’s Rhys Carter – make up the talented three-man Kiwi motocross squad aiming to challenge, and hopefully beat, the best riders in the world.
Brodie Connolly will be New Zealand’s MX2 (250cc) class rider this year and it is his MXoN debut, with the teenager joined by two riders with previous MXoN racing experience – Rhys Carter in the Open class, and Josiah Natzke in the MXGP class.
The trio flew into the US earlier this week, keen to get settled in before the rigors of racing demand their full attention, starting with set-up day at the track today, followed by two days’ racing on Saturday, September 24 and Sunday. September 25.
This is the first time in two years for Kiwi riders to have a crack at MXoN – this year bringing together the word’s elite at the RedBud circuit in Michigan, not far from Chicago.
MXoN did not happen in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and New Zealand did not send a team to MXoN in Italy last year due to safety concerns and travel difficulties associated with the pandemic.
But the Kiwis are back with a vengeance at the 75th annual MXoN edition, again being managed by former motocross world champion racer Shayne King, from New Plymouth.
Shane says racing in Michigan will be harsh and the Kiwis will be under no illusions about that.
“Every year it’s the toughest motocross event in the world,” says King, a man who raced for New Zealand at the MXoN on 12 occasions and was twice instrumental in putting NZ on the podium.
“We have had a challenging couple of years in this sport due to the pandemic, but we’ve been shown great support from the New Zealand motorcycling community to get up and running again.
“From a little island at the bottom of the world, we know it’ a huge deal to be able to step up to this level of competition, but we know too that, when we pull on the silver fern shirt, we become bullet- proof and 10-foot tall.
“Our first task will be to get through the qualification phase on day one of racing. If we can make the A final, then anything else is a bonus.”
Josiah Natzke. Photo: Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com.
Team New Zealand has finished among the top 10 an incredible 14 times in 30 appearances at MXoN since they first attended in 1984.
Motorcycling NZ motocross commissioner Lindsey Heileso says Team New Zealand is ready to do battle again.
“We hope they can get into the (20-nation) finals races and maybe even get on the podium again. I look forward to seeing what results they can achieve.”
Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com