Former motocross Grand Prix winner and multi-time former Australian and New Zealand champion Darryll King may now be aged in his late 40s, but he still commands a huge amount of respect in all corners of the world.
And the Yamaha ace has plenty still to offer the sport, not just as a coach and mentor, but he also continues on as a feared competitor.
The 47-year-old, now living in the Philippines when he’s not at home in Hamilton, raced for the Tauranga Motorcycle Club at the recent Battle of the Clubs fundraiser motocross in Taupo, finishing as the best-performed veterans’ class rider at the event.
King took his Yamaha YZ450F to finish fourth (combined vets/MX2 race) and seventh (combined vets/MX1 race) in his two outings, helping his Tauranga crew to finish fourth overall of the 26 teams competing that day.
However, those results didn’t really matter to King – it was significant for him simply in that he was able to support the event that had been created to boost funds for sending a New Zealand team to the Motocross of Nations (MXoN) in Italy this September.
King understands more than most the international importance of the MXoN event, having himself been on the three-rider teams to compete at the MXoN on an incredible nine occasions between 1987 and the year 2000. He was one of the Kiwi trio that stood on the podium, at Foxhills in England, in 1998.
Twice a world 500cc motocross championships runner-up, in 1997 and again in 1998, before abandoning the GP scene at the end of 2000 and returning home to carry on the business of winning domestic championships, King has seen a lot happen in his beloved sport over the years and he’s always been keen to put something back.
“I love motocross and I flew back home especially for the BOTC event. I love the track at Taupo and knew it would have been prepared well. Being part of a team was also a bonus. I do fewer events these day, maybe a dozen races a year.”
King is looking forward to racing at the annual Veterans’ Motocross World Cup (VMX), in The Netherlands in August, an event at which he’s traditionally been a leading contender.
King finished runner-up in both races at the VMX event last year and was forced to settle for overall runner-up, behind Swedish Yamaha rider Mats Nilsson. And King was championship runner-up in 2014 too, on that occasion behind Czech Republic rider Martin Zerava.
He is determined this year to reclaim the No.1 ranking that he’d earned when winning the VMX in England in 2012.
“It’s (on the infield) at the Assen road-race track in Holland on August 27-28. The organisers bring in sand and dump it there. It’s pretty hard to race in. It’s an amazing track but you can’t practice there beforehand. I want to get over there early a do a few laps on sandy tracks nearby.
“They’re mean riders and they don’t give an inch. They’ll smash you in the corners if you leave a gap. They might be older guys, like me of course, but they are all lean and mean and as fit as ever.
“I know what to expect and I’ll be better-prepared this year. I’ve lost some weight and I’m fitter. I’ll do some sand riding between now and then and do a few club days. Then I’ll go to Holland and try again.
“It’s just so much fun to walk and talk with the GP guys from back in the day. I know I’ve said in the past I’ve retired, but it’s just such a wonderful sport that I don’t think I ever could.”
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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