Latta moves up to ninth spot

Digging deep . . . Balclutha’s Madison Latta (22) moved up to New Zealand MX1 ninth place during North Island national competition this summer. PHOTO: SUPPLIED/NICK BROOK

Balclutha mechanic Madison Latta rounded out a summer season of motocross ranked ninth overall in the New Zealand MX1 National Championships.

Motocross is a four-season sport but the 2023 national competition was four rounds beginning on February 12 in Balclutha.

Latta got off to an average start at home but gained ground when he touched down to meet his race support team for round 2 in Rotorua on February 26.

‘‘We’d just had the bike a bit too stiff and it was wearing my body out too early,’’ he said.

‘‘We corrected it and I felt I was really able to get my best after that.’’

The third round of the championship was originally scheduled to take place at the Hawke’s Bay track.

Following Cyclone Gabrielle, the round had to be cancelled with the final at Taupo converted into a doubleheader.

Five-time and reigning champion Hamish Harwood finished as runner-up to Maximus Purvis, who won his first MX1 (450cc) national title.

In the MX2 (250cc), Cody Cooper won his 10th senior national title overall, after dropping back into the class for 2023.

Latta moved up the rankings to ninth out of 31 in the notoriously strenuous and hazardous competition.

‘‘Motorbikes have been part of my life since I was on a Suzuki JR 50 at 3 of 4 so it’s natural to expect to keep growing and improving . . . but in the moment it’s like an adrenaline dream.

‘‘It changes into a lifestyle when there’s a lot of racing on and it’s really inspiring to have my family and friends . . . right there doing everything they can to help me succeed.’’

Latta said he rode for practice about once per week and entered most southern events, with the Hasler Memorial MX meeting at Balclutha Riverside Reserve track on Sunday, May 14.