Cambridge’s Damien King reigned again at the Tarawera 100 cross-country motorcycle endurance race in the Bay of Plenty on Saturday.
The winner of the great race last year, the Yamaha ace made it back-to-back wins by dominating again this time, taking the lead on the second lap of four at this year’s 32nd annual edition of the event and pushing out his advantage to finish a minute and a half ahead of runner-up Karl Power (KTM).
Auckland’s Power had the “Flying Scotsman” hard on his heels, the expatriate Scotsman Barry Morris (Yamaha), now of Wellington, taking the third podium spot at the end of the gruelling three-hour, 100-mile (160 km) Tony Rees Yamaha-sponsored race.
Rain threatened to drench the circuit but it never arrived, making for perfect racing conditions on the rolling farmland course, just a stone’s throw from the pulp and paper factory at Kawerau.
Rotorua’s Cam Negus (Yamaha) quickly snatched the lead after the shot-gun blast signalled the start at 10am, the former Tarawera 100 race winner leading more than 230 of the country’s elite off-road racers out of the main paddock.
However, he was soon overtaken by Power and King’s elder brother Darryll, while Cambridge’s Kieran Leigh (Yamaha) and Damien King also moved in for the kill.
By the end of the second lap, Damien King was in front, taking advantage as the men ahead of him each made mistakes, taking wrong turns or slipping from their bikes.
From there, it was perhaps a foregone conclusion as the 33-year-old former GP motocross star turned up the wick, stretching his lead at every turn.
“I simply didn’t make any mistakes,” said Damien King afterwards. “I backed off on the last lap to ensure I didn’t push too hard and crash … job done. Yamaha sponsors this race, so it was good to do the right thing for them.”
Power, who was making his debut at the event, punched the air as he crossed the finish, thrilled with his runner-up result first time out.
“It’s definitely a tough race,” said the enduro ace. “But I really enjoyed it.”
Power clocked the fastest time of the day, 24 seconds quicker even than race winner King.
Morris, originally from Edinburgh but now a Kiwi resident, said he was amazed by King’s pace.
“I don’t know how he goes that fast,” said Morris. “I had no idea where I was going half the time and had a few crashes … just small stuff though, nothing too major.”
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
Full story and more photos in Kiwi Rider magazine