MC2 Suzuki Racings Todd Waters raced to a podium position in the opening round of the New Zealand Motocross Championship at Timaru on Sunday.
Waters and team-mate Brad Groombridge battled treacherous mud, deep ruts and a talent-packed field of international and Kiwi stars to eventually occupy two of the top-six spots in the MX1 class.
The class was won by Australian Dean Ferris, with defending national MX1 champion Cody Cooper finishing runner-up, just ahead of Waters, who claimed the third podium step.
Waters (25), like fellow Australian Ferris - a former Grand Prix racer in Europe - was quick to adapt to the changing conditions of the track, bulldozing through clinging mud early in the day, after overnight watering by track staff, before using his vast international racing experience to find fast lines as the soil hardened and formed deep grooves.
Waters and MC2 Suzuki team-mates Groombridge and Argentinian Joaquin Fernandez, swapped notes on how to deal with the rough terrain; Groombridge passing on his fast-starting techniques and Gold Coast racer Waters offering-up a few choice lines.
Waters finished the day with a 3-2-3 score-card, while Groombridge posted a 5-6-5 and finished sixth overall, just two points off fourth.
A crash in the last race of the day cost Fernandez dearly. He had been featuring among the leading riders in the class before the incident, but was unable to finish and this saw him drop down the rankings and finish the day 14th overall.
Said MC2 Team Manager Andrew Hardisty: It was a solid performance from the boys and the team is on track for a great finish to this series. With Brad's slick starting and Todd's vast international experience, we were able to showcase the winning potential of the Suzuki RM-Z450.
We have opened our account for 2016 with Todd third and Brad sixth and I'm satisfied with that. We can build positively on that. We knew this first round was going to be tough, but there are still nine races to go (three at each of the remaining rounds) and I think we're on track to grab some silverware.
With Sunday's series opener in Timaru behind them, the riders now head to Manawatu for round two on February 28th, with round three to follow at the Rotorua Motorcycle Club's track on March 13th. The championship trophies get handed out at the Taupo finale on March 20th.
Words courtesy of Andy McGechan @ www.bikesportnz.com
Image Credit: Lauran Robinson