It’s time to step up and be counted for New Zealand’s motocross elite.
Everything is at stake as the third round of four in the Demon Energy New Zealand Motocross Championships series hits Patetonga, near Morrinsville, this weekend (November 8).
Kiwi internationals Scott Columb, of Queenstown, and Michael Phillips, of Rotorua, have been locked in a fierce struggle to win ascendancy in the MX2 (250cc) class.
The two riders are level-pegging in the points at the halfway stage of the series and it will take something special for either one of them to emerge with the outright lead when the engines shut down at Patetonga on Sunday afternoon.
“I was suffering from jet-lag at round one, from my flight back from racing in Italy, and I had a cold and then goggle problems at round two. Hopefully I’ll be able to perform at 100% at Patetonga,” said Columb.
Although Columb and Phillips are clearly the dominant riders in this class, the action is still hot further back with little to separate the next five or six riders in the points.
Taupo’s Cameron Dillon, Tauranga’s Peter Broxholme, Hamilton’s Jesse Wiki and Taupo’s Nick Saunders are each capable of winning races.
Meanwhile, with former champion Daryl Hurley, of Hawera, tumbling to the sideline and out of the series following a spectacular crash at the previous round, it surely just needs sensible and mature riding by Christchurch’s Justin McDonald for him to maintain or perhaps even stretch his lead in the MX1 (450cc) class.
McDonald didn’t win a race at the previous round near Rotorua — wins going instead to Hamilton’s Hayden Clark, Mount Maunganui’s Cody Cooper and Mount Maunganui’s Mason Phillips — but solid finishes enabled him to build a 22-point lead over Cooper at the top of the standings.
Defending 125cc class champion Damien King, of Cambridge, has started to stamp his authority on the small bike class, although former junior champion Ethan Martens, of Waitakere, remains a big threat, while Christchurch’s Hayden McKay, Cambridge’s former national champion Mike Cotter and rising star Kayne Lamont, of Mangakino, also look very capable.
Martens leads the race-within-a-race for under-21 honours and in that fight he is 20 points ahead of Lamont, with Wanganui’s Tom Managh third overall.
After this weekend’s racing, the series heads to Taranaki the following Sunday (November 15) for the fourth and final round.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com