Factory Yamaha rider runner-up at Pukekohe's penultimate round.
Altherm JCR Yamaha’s Kirk Gibbs has praised the respectful title fight with rival Cody Cooper (Honda Racing) in the 2019 New Zealand MX Nationals, as just one round remains for the Australian to defend his crown.
The pair have duelled all season long, trading race wins at each and every round, however it’s Cooper who leads the championship by three points following Pukekohe’s penultimate round at the weekend.
Number one plated Gibbs lodged a 2-2-1 scorecard to Cooper’s 1-1-2 results, which ultimately saw him relinquish the red-plate with just the season finale to be run at Taupo on 10 March.
“It’s been very clean racing between me and Coops, which has been good,” Gibbs explained. “[There are] no out of control passes or clean-outs – we’ve passed really clean and raced clean. I think we are both older riders and we know if we hit the dirt, it hurts. We’ve been very respectful of each other and it’s been good racing
“We played cat and mouse but I couldn’t catch or pull him in and ended up second. I got pushed a little wide then nearly went down a couple of times on the first turn. I made it really hard for myself. By the time I got into second, Coops was gone and I couldn’t bridge that gap, so it was second again.
“In the last race, I got a decent start. I got in behind Coops and was slowly, slowly catching him. I was right up behind him and he made a little mistake and I got by and was able to bring it home for a win.
“I know Coops rides well in Taupo, but I’ll just have to be better. It’s definitely awesome that Coops is riding so well. It’s good for me to ride even harder and get better with my Yamaha YZ450F set-up.”
In the MX2 category, Western Australian Kyle Webster (Penrite Pirelli CRF Honda Racing) topped the classification ahead of Hamish Harwood (CML Motorex KTM Team) and Mason Semmens (Davey Motorsports KTM).
Aussie contender Morgan Fogarty (KTM) was sixth overall, as reigning Australian MX2 champion Wilson Todd (DPH Motorsport Husqvarna) failed to complete races two and three after winning the opening moto.