With a firm grip now in two of the three men’s categories they are tackling, the 2024 New Zealand Motocross Championships seem to be going very well indeed for the “Orange Army” from north of the Bombay hills.


The Auckland-based CML KTM Racing Team enjoyed a brilliant day of racing at the third round of four in this year’s national series at Pukekohe on Saturday, with two of their riders consolidating positions at the top of their respective bike classes.


Rain drenched MR Motorcycles Raceway at Harrisville, just a few kilometres south of Pukekohe, early on Saturday, but, if anything, the treacherous conditions simply ensured that only true talent could or would shine out.


West Auckland-based former Takaka rider Hamish Harwood (KTM 450SX-F) was the best rider on show at Pukekohe on Saturday, emerging as the only rider to achieve a hat-trick of wins in the slippery and deep-rutted conditions.


The 28-year-old father-of-two, a multi-time former national motocross champion and many time a New Zealand representative overseas, has now extended his championship advantage to a commanding 17 points over visiting Australian professional Jed Beaton.


“It was a perfect day for me,” said Harwood afterwards.


“I nailed the starts in the first two (of three) MX1 races on Saturday and then just controlled the races from there. Jed (Beaton) grabbed the lead in the third race but then he dropped his bike and I grabbed the lead.


“He gained a little on me near the end of that race … we were matching each other with lap times and I could watch where he was behind me. I just tried to manage it and not make any silly mistakes.


“I didn’t need to win that final race to win the day overall, but the extra points will come in handy for me at the final round. The situation now is that, if he wins every race at the final round, I can afford to finish third each time and still take the title.”

Harwood has finished first or second in every race so far in this campaign, but the pressure is now largely off for him. 


“The bike was great. It’s getting better each time I ride it,” he said.


Meanwhile, Harwood’s young team-mate, Bombay’s Reuben Smith (KTM 125SX), pushed out his lead in the 125cc class to nine points over his two main challengers, Auckland-based former Invercargill rider Seth Morrow and Appleby’s Wills Harvey.


“Being consistent was the key for me at Pukekohe,” said Smith.


“I’m happy with my speed and I just need to work harder on my starts. It’s tough being 80kg on a 125cc bike, but the bike was awesome. It’s my starting technique that needs a little work,” he laughed.


“I’m looking forward to the final round coming up in Taranaki. That’s the track where I finished top-three in the juniors,” said the just-turned 17-year-old.


Smith also raced in the MX2 (250cc) class on another CML KTM Racing Team bike. He was one of only two riders to tackle two separate classes all weekend and settled for finishing the day ninth overall in the medium-sized bike division.


The fourth and final round of the series is set for the Barrett Road facility on the outskirts of New Plymouth on April 13.


Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan,