Yet another national title has headed the way of West Auckland’s Hamish Harwood and his CML KTM Racing Team although perhaps this season’s win was the hardest of all to achieve.


This would not have been apparent to any casual observer because Royal Heights-based former Takaka man Harwood appeared to be cruising at the fourth and final round of the 2024 New Zealand Motocross Championships in Taranaki on Sunday … and he was.


The 28-year-old fulltime builder and fulltime father-of-two was really up against it this season, challenged by one of the best international riders from this part of the world, 2024 Australian Motocross Championship leader and former World Championship Grand Prix racer Jed Beaton.


To make things even more difficult, Harwood had smashed and broken his left hand when he hit a trackside marker post at a major pre-nationals motocross event at Woodville in late January.


But Harwood carried on that day, still just able to hang onto his KTM450SXF bike’s handlebars, even with a slippery, blood-soaked glove, and he remarkably still won every outing in the premier MX1 class at Woodville, outshining full-time professional racer Beaton.


With the four-round New Zealand Motocross Championships series kicking off in Rotorua just a week later, Harwood had to either soldier on with his campaign or withdraw to seek medical treatment for his broken hand. He chose to soldier on.


Harwood won the day at Rotorua to take an early lead in the title chase, although he was forced to settle for a close second overall to Beaton at round two in Balclutha, in South Otago, two weeks later.


The see-saw battle between these two men continued at round three near Pukekohe three weeks ago and this time it was Harwood who prevailed again, winning all three MX1 class races that day, and with that he had stretched his points advantage out to 17 over Beaton.


That gave Harwood all the breathing room he needed for the finale and so, knowing second or third placings at Taranaki’s final round on Sunday would be enough to get the job done, he eased back just a fraction.


Beaton won the day on Sunday with a 1-1-2 score-card, while Harwood’s 2-2-1 results easily handed him the title for 2024. In the end, Harwood finished the series 14 points clear of Beaton.


“All I needed to do was ride sensibly in Taranaki to take the title,” Harwood confirmed afterwards.


“Three third placings would even have been enough,” said the man who has finished no worse than second all season. “I didn’t have any doubts in my ability, but I was realistic and knew that motocross can sometimes be a cruel sport.


“Anything could have happened to ruin it for me … a crash, a flat tyre, something mechanical going wrong. With the track conditions the way they were here (wet and slippery) there was a high chance that something bad could happen.


“To beat a guy at Jed’s level makes this title win special. He has shown that he’s the best guy in Australia at the moment and so, for me to be able to beat him is a pretty good feeling. It certainly wasn’t a fluke. I won the most races this season (10 race wins out of 15 starts, including his three race wins against Beaton at Woodville).


“To compete at such a high level and win adds credibility to what I’ve done. It makes me super proud to have achieved this title.


“My injured hand is not holding me back so much now. It’s more annoying than painful. I’m unsure whether I’ll need to have an operation to get it fixed up.


“I have no plans for more racing this season. I might tackle something overseas, but I have no plans at the minute.”


Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan,