Posted By: James Hanson
JULY 11, 2011: Perhaps it was the one that got away for 42-year-old Waikato father-of-two Darryll King at the weekend.
A previous outright winner at the popular Tarawera 100 cross-country dirt bike marathon, Yamaha ace King was easily among the half-dozen favourites to win this year’s 34th annual edition of the great race at Te Teko, near Whakatane, on Saturday.
He responded well to that star billing, reacting fastest to the shotgun blast that signalled the 10am start, jumping ahead of the 175-rider field and securing the lead as the riders entered the woods for the first of four 40-kilometre laps.
Even that was enough to get the crowd cheering, a 250cc two-stroke outsprinting them all, many of the other lead riders on 450cc four-stroke machinery and in treacherous conditions that could only be described as energy-sapping.
“I took the holeshot but, in the end, I couldn’t match (eventual race winner) Cody Cooper in the horsepower stakes and he got by me during that first lap,” said King.
“I probably should have used a 450cc bike today but I wanted to get the start and a quick-firing two-stroke was probably the only way to achieve that.”
King had looked comfortable in the lead and still looked a threat to Mount Maunganui’s Cooper later in the race, until he experienced a slight malfunction with his front suspension, the screw cap on top of one of his forks unthreading and working free.
“I was forced to back off and take it easy. I thought we might be able to make a switch and replace the front forks during the next pit stop but we decided against it in the end and just pushed on until the finish.”
King was forced to settle for fourth overall, behind Cooper, Opotiki’s Rhys Carter and Tauranga’s Reece Burgess and less than a minute ahead of the fifth-placed rider, Taranaki’s Adrian Smith, riding a Yamaha YZ250F.
“Okay, I couldn’t win the race overall but it was still nice to win the over-200cc two-stroke class.”
In fact it ended up as a Yamaha 1-2-3 in the battle for over-200cc two-stroke honours with MXDK Rockstar Yamaha team boss King winning ahead of fellow YZ250 riders Cam Negus, of Rotorua, and Tokoroa’s Trevor Wilson.
King will now refocus on several upcoming international motocross excursions.
He will tackle the final two rounds of the Australian Motocross Championships in the open class and then head to the United Kingdom for the British Motocross Grand Prix, where he will race the veterans’ world championship class.
The 100-mile (160-kilometre) race distance from which the event draws its name is typically a battle of doggedness and determination as much as it is a battle of power or pace and King demonstrated that, even at age 42, he is as durable as they come.
King won the New Zealand Motocross Championships in the MX2 class earlier this season.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com