There is little time for the riders to catch their breath in this year’s New Zealand Motocross Championships.
The Demon Energy-sponsored four-round series kicked off near Timaru last weekend and resumes with round two near Rotorua this Sunday with the championship chase close in all classes.
Hawera’s Daryl Hurley (Suzuki) leads the MX1 class but is only three points ahead of his nearest challenger, Christchurch Honda rider Justin McDonald.
In the MX2 class it was another couple of Kiwi internationals, Rotorua’s Michael Phillips (Honda) and Queenstown’s Scott Columb (Suzuki), who dominated at Timaru.
Phillips has a five-point advantage over Columb after the three MX2 races at Timaru but there’s really nothing to separate these two riders.
Phillips had been the runaway leader of this class last season when he threw it all away with an uncharacteristic crash at the final round – a mistake he will be seeking to rectify.
Big things could perhaps be expected from Phillips this weekend with the racing being staged on very familiar terrain, his parents’ farm.
Meanwhile, a double title defence is not possible for Cambridge motocross ace Damien King this season.
The 33-year-old won both the MX1 and 125cc titles in last season’s New Zealand Motocross Championships but a new format for the series this year means it is virtually impossible for him to tackle both categories and defend both titles.
He attempted to race both classes at the series opener near Timaru on Sunday but ended the day a spent force.
“It was a very tiring day at Timaru,” said King. “Track conditions were very tough and I was out of my league trying to ride two classes and over three hours of racing. I will put all my energy into the 125cc class for the next three rounds, in Rotorua, Patetonga (near Morrinsville) and New Plymouth,” he said.
The rider leading the 125cc class is Waitakere youngster Ethan Martens (KTM) but King is just three points behind and expected to rise to the challenge in Rotorua on Sunday.
Martens also leads the race-within-a-race for under-21 age-group honours, 15 points ahead of fellow teenager Mangakino’s Kayne Lamont (Yamaha).
2009 DEMON NEW ZEALAND MOTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Round one, October 11, 2009, Timaru
Round two, October 18, 2009, Rotorua
Round three, November 8, 2009, Patetonga
Round four, November 15, 2009, New Plymouth.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com