An elixir of youth? … Whatever it is that Hamilton’s Darryll King has, there are bound to be a few of the country’s motocross riders who want to buy bottles of it by the case-load.
The 41-year-old dominated the weekend at the annual Auckland Motocross Championships, at the tricky clay-based Harrisville track, near Pukekohe, taking different models of Yamaha bikes to win two separate classes and finish a close runner-up in another over the two days.
Nothing too remarkable in that you might say — after all, he is a multi-time national champion in both New Zealand and Australia, not to mention being a two-time former world motocross vice-champion — but all those titles were gained a few years ago and surely nobody expected a middle-aged veteran to still be featuring among the sport’s young elite, beating many riders who were half his age.
King was unbeaten in winning the veterans’ class on Saturday and then backed that up by fronting up the following day to race his Yamaha YZ450F in the MX1 class and his Yamaha YZ250 two-stroke in the MX2 class as well.
King finished 1-2-2 to win the MX1 class, beating such notable riders as Kiwi international Mason Phillips (Mount Maunganui, Kawasaki) and national MX1 champion Justin McDonald (Christchurch, Honda) in the process.
He then shocked national MX2 champion Michael Phillips (Rotorua, Honda) in the day’s first of three MX2 races, and still led the class after finishing third in the day’s second MX2 race.
This forced young Kiwi international Phillips to dig for extra reserves of strength and cunning to snatch the class outright by winning the deciding third race, while King “mucked up” his start and was forced to battle through the field to eventually claim fourth in that race and settle for overall runner-up.
“My main role these days is to manage the Subway Yamaha team, not to race the bikes myself,” said King. “But I enjoy it so much and I need to build up ahead of the World Veterans’ Motocross Championships, which kick off in Italy next month.
Meanwhile, King’s young brother and Subway Yamaha team-mate, Damien King, of Cambridge, was unbeaten in winning the 125cc class.
“We nearly got the trifecta (of winning all three main classes), but I just missed out on winning the MX2 class. Still, it was a good day for me and I’m feeling very confident now ahead of the world championships.
“Everything for me at the moment is focussed on getting prepared for Italy (and the world championship races that follow in England, Germany, Latvia, Belgium and the Netherlands).
“To beat the New Zealand MX1 champion at the weekend is a fantastic sign that I am close to ready.”
Also impressive at the Auckland Motocross Championships on Sunday was Mason Phillips, who won two of the day’s three MX1 races and he could well have won the overall if it hadn’t been for a first-turn incident in race one, leaving him with a massive task to fought back and eventually claim seventh in that race.
Masterton’s Johnny Burkhart (Honda) made a comeback to the sport on Sunday after several years’ absence and he impressed by finishing sixth overall in the MX1 class.
His younger brother Luke Burkhart was also back in action after a short absence and this time back riding a Suzuki. He finished fourth overall in the MX2 class but most impressive was his start-to-finish win in race two on Sunday.
The charge through the pack by Hamilton’s Jesse Wiki (Honda) in the day’s second MX2 race was an inspirational ride. Caught up in a turn-one pile-up, he had passed half the field by the end of the first lap and eventually claimed 11th spot. He had to settle for eighth overall on the day.
Young Aucklander James Ainsworth (KTM) seemed to have some secret recipe for holeshots, leading at the start of each 125cc class race. He eventually finished 2-2-4 and took runner-up spot in the class behind Damien King.
Featherston’s Callum Moore (Yamaha) was third best in the 125cc class, getting better as the day progressed and scoring 10-3-2 results.
Otago’s junior world No.6 Courtney Duncan (Yamaha) was simply unstoppable in the women’s races, taking a hat-trick of wins to head Bombay’s Courtney Lindsay (Kawasaki) to the podium.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
Full story and more photos in your next issue of KIWI RIDER magazine.