Moto Media

New Honda partnership formed

Cody Cooper. Image - Geoff Osborne.

Former World Champion, American Champion and National Motocross Champion Ben Townley will go from being the greatest threat to motocross ace Cody Cooper, to being his greatest asset when the new motocross season gets underway in just a few weeks’ time.

Tauranga’s Townley, Mount Maunganui’s National MX1 Champion Cooper and Waikato businessman Phil Empson have joined forces to establish The Honda Shop Racing Team, basing itself around the Te Awamutu, Cambridge and Putaruru areas.

With last season’s Champion Cooper to ride the impressive Honda CRF450 in the MX1 class, his former rival Townley to manage him and Empson providing massive support, along with Honda, Cooper is confident of making a successful title defence when the 2014 nationals kick off in February.

Cooper will have a team-mate to ride in the MX2 (250cc) class, but that individual is yet to be confirmed.

The National Championships – as well as major stand-alone events such as the Waikato Motocross Championships in two weeks’ time, the popular Whakatane Summercross just after Christmas and the big annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville in late January – will be the main focus for the team.

"Phil (Empson) has had a significant stake in the region with his dealership team over the past few seasons and it has always been a goal of his to take it another step further,” said Townley.

"I will be manager and co-ordinator of the team and I will bring my international experience to the unit. Phil owns several Honda dealerships and wants this to help increase the profile of his businesses.”

Townley said the parent Honda company would also still operate its own separate race team, with the company simply widening it’s assault on the motocross scene.

Cooper said he was excited by the new developments.  "I am really looking ahead to the new season. I have already had a couple of rides on the new Honda CRF450 and I loved it. I rode the Honda brand for several years previously but this is still a fresh start for me. I feel reinvigorated by it and I really feel motivated to go out there and win.

"The help I’ll get from a man of Ben Townley’s experience will be awesome too.”

The Waikato Motocross Championships near Te Kuiti on November 2-3 will be Cooper’s first official outing for The Honda Shop Racing Team.

Courtesy of Blue Wing Honda. Written by Andy McGechan,