Waikato’s Darryll King turned a few heads when he won the New Zealand Motocross Championships in March and now the Yamaha ace is threatening to do almost the same thing on the world stage.
Two runner-up finishes in the Veterans’ World Cup class at the weekend’s United States Motocross Grand Prix (USGP) in California has put the New Zealander on the podium and also shot him into contention for a top three finish in the world championships as well.
Despite skipping the series opener in Valkenswaard, in the Netherlands, last month, the 42-year-old King quickly made up lost ground, his results at the weekend taking him from nowhere in the championship to sixth overall and just a handful of points off the No.2 spot.
Sweden’s Mats Nilsson (Yamaha), a double race winner in the Netherlands, settled for 3-1 results at the USGP, but that was enough for him to win the day on a count-back from local favourite, American Yamaha rider Doug Dubach, who was equal on points with his 1-3 results.
Hamilton’s King (Pro Circuit Rockstar Yamaha YZ450F) came just one point short of matching Nilsson and Dubach in the points count-up in California but, significantly, he is just four points off the No.2 spot in the series standings, a position currently held by Swedish rider Roger Jakobson (Yamaha).
Jacobson managed only sixth overall at the USGP, finishing 10th and fifth in the two outings.
King fought through the traffic in race one at the weekend, making it look easy as he passed Nilsson midway through the race, and quickly caught race leader Dubach, coming just a couple of bike lengths short of passing him as the chequered flag came out.
King and Dubach were the only two vets riders to clear the fearsome main jump at the Glen Helen track and they both lapped down to fifth place.
Nilsson seemed to have fresh reserves of energy as he responded by winning the blustery and rain-drenched second race, Dubach and King forced to follow but still ensuring a Yamaha 1-2-3 for the podium.
“Finishing 2-2 is not what I wanted,” said King.
“I was so close to winning. But have to settle for third overall. I kept it safe on the track and rode at my best. I was fastest in every practise and in the race.
“It was dry and rutty conditions for race one and muddy conditions for race two the next day, with rain all morning turning the track to a full mudder. It was a good choice to ride the YZ450F in the heavy conditions.
“I tried everything to get by Mats Nilsson. I know I didn’t leave anything on the table and gave myself every chance to win this Grand Prix.
“My thoughts are now on riding the next Grand Prix back in Europe.”
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com