Empire Kawasaki pushed through a brutally hot, rough day of racing at the Appin round of the 2023 Australian ProMX Championship, with both Haruki Yokoyama and Cambell Williams finishing just outside the top 10 in their respective classes, while Cody Cooper claimed 18th.
Still trying to recover from a pre-season shoulder injury, Yokoyama struggled to put a fast MX2 qualifying lap together in the muddy conditions he encountered at the start of the day, and could only manage 29th-fastest.
The former Japanese national champion found himself mid-pack off the starting gate in both MX2 races, but aboard his 2023 Kawasaki KX250, he was able to work his way forward and make passes when the opportunities presented themselves. Yokoyama finished the day 12th overall with 15-13 race results.
“The track was pretty cool, but I struggled a lot in qualifying and couldn’t put a fast lap together," he explained. "My two motos weren’t the best, but I’m struggling with a shoulder injury that’s not healing properly yet. That made both races challenging, but I feel like there’s been some improvement since the opening round, so we will be ready for Wodonga in four weeks.”
Also in the MX2 class, multi-time New Zealand champion Cody Cooper struggled to get used to the energy-sapping 39-degree heat, despite enjoying the technical track and the multiple lines on offer.
After securing an 11th-fastest qualifying time aboard his 2023 Kawasaki KX250, Cooper found himself battling through the mid-pack off the start of both races, finishing P14 in the opening race, then 18th in the second moto, to finish the day 18th overall.
“I liked the track and loved the ruts and the lines it had to offer, but the heat got to me today," Cooper said. "I seem to be worse at it than other riders and it’s something I’ve struggled with my whole life. Being sick last weekend didn’t help either. I felt like I let the team down a bit, as the bike is awesome and it has plenty of power... I’m happy I kept it upright today, but it was tough out there.”
In the MX3 class, promising young talent Williams started the day strongly with a sixth-fastest qualifying time with his 2023 Kawasaki KX250.
In the opening race, Williams ran as high as fourth for most of the moto before dropping a few positions and finishing seventh. An average jump off the gate in the second race had him caught in the middle of the pack, and he battled both the oppressive heat and other riders on his way to 13th and 11th overall for the day.
“I started well in qualifying and I had a decent first race, even though I haven’t raced ProMX since Maitland last year due to some injuries," Williams reflected. "I was happy with my pace in that moto and enjoyed how the track formed up after the first MX2 moto. I struggled off the start in the second race and with the heat, but we’ve got a lot more racing ahead of us and I’ll keep moving forward.”
The next round of the 2022 Australian ProMX Championship will be held at Wodonga, Victoria, on 16 April.
2023 ProMX Rd2 Appin, NSW
1. Nathan Crawford 2. Wilson Todd 3. Brodie Connolly 12. Haruki Yokoyama (Empire Kawasaki) 18. Cody Cooper (Empire Kawasaki)
1. Ky Woods 2. Liam Owens 3. Byron Dennis 11. Cambell Williams (Empire Kawasaki)