There were mixed feelings for Queenstown’s Scott Columb after he won on debut with the new Yamaha YZ450F bike at the weekend’s big annual Michael Godfrey Memorial Motocross near Christchurch.
Though pleased with his winning form after returning to the race track following surgery, his celebration was tinged with sadness because of the tragic death of a fellow competitor in one of the junior classes on Sunday.
Haywood led his class at the end of Saturday’s race action and, with no further races held following the accident, he was posthumously declared the champion. All prizemoney from the cancelled races was to be donated to the grieving family.
“It was a horrible way to end the event,” said former national champion Columb. “Trent died doing something that he loved and he was riding so well too. I extend, on behalf of my Altherm JCR Yamaha Team, condolences to the Haywood family.”
On the race track, Columb had been in scintillating form.
With three wins and a runner-up finish, the 30-year-old Kiwi international won the premier senior MX1 class, ending the abbreviated event six points clear of Taupo’s national MX1 No.3 Brad Groombridge (Bel Ray Pro Rider Suzuki RM-Z450).
Groombridge finished 2-2-2-1.
“I was conserving my energy a little bit in race four, expecting that I’d need that for the feature race coming up. But it wasn’t to be, with the event cut short by the tragedy,” Columb explained.
“The new YZ450F was brilliant. I have had five weeks out of racing while I had surgery to mend the injury I sustained at round two of the nationals (back in February), so I was pretty happy with my results and thrilled with my return and on the 450 bike too.”
Columb also raced his Yamaha YZ250 in the MX2 class, although an uncharacteristic error in the first MX2 race of the weekend caused him to crash. He battled back to finish seventh but was then consigned to playing catch-up for the remainder of the weekend.
Columb finished 1-1-2-1 in his four MX2 outings and he finished the event overall runner-up to Takaka’s Hamish Harwood.
Harwood (CMR Red Bull KTM) finished 1-2-1-2 to win the MX2 class by eight points from multi-class campaigner Columb.
“It was hard to switch back and forth from a 450cc four-stroke to a 250cc two-stroke because the braking points on the track are very different. They are completely different bikes to ride but I enjoyed them both.”
Fellow Yamaha ace Courtney Duncan, also on the comeback from injury, was similarly impressive.
The Otago teenager took her Yamaha YZ125 to easily win the senior 125cc class with an unbeaten string of four wins and she also finished unbeaten in dominating the separate women’s grade.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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