Young Kiwi riders ready to step up in Latvia
New Zealand again finds itself stuck between a rock and a hard place on the international motocross front but is, as always, determined to rise to the challenge.
The Motocross of Nations (MXoN) will this season be held at Kegums, in Latvia, on September 27-28, and Team New Zealand's campaign may have been seen as mission impossible when all three first-choice riders became unavailable.
The trio of riders who represented New Zealand at the MXoN event in Germany last season - Mount Maunganui pair Cody Cooper and Rhys Carter and Mangakino's Kayne Lamont - all dropped to the sideline with injuries in recent weeks, leaving Motorcycling New Zealand in a tough spot and with time rapidly running out to be able to put together a viable campaign.
But in has stepped former Motocross of Nations campaigner and former national motocross champion Scott Columb (Yamaha), from Queenstown, to captain the 2014 effort and ride the open class for Team New Zealand.
His team-mates will be Auckland's Hamish Dobbyn (MX1, KTM) and Takaka's Hamish Harwood (MX2, KTM).
For both Dobbyn and Harwood, this year's event in Latvia will be their debut MXoN appearances.
"I believe we have assembled a good team," said Team New Zealand manager Dave Craig, from Wanaka.
"With the experience of Scotty Columb, who has raced internationally for many years, and the undoubted abilities of Hamish Dobbyn and Hamish Harwood, both young men who also have raced in Europe before, I am sure we can achieve a good result.
"Youth is certainly on the side of Dobbyn and Harwood and their determination to impress will help our cause.
"The flights are booked and accommodation in Latvia is sorted and we are awaiting confirmation now for first-class bikes to be made available. We are receiving great help from KTM and Yamaha in Europe and that is appreciated.
"We may not have what might be considered by many as a world-beating team, but our riders have plenty of guts and determination and that counts for a lot."
The step up from local club racing to competing at the nationals is huge; the step up to racing the nationals in another country is bigger again . . . but to race the MXoN is the toughest thing on the planet, but the Team New Zealand trio head to Latvia with at least a fighting chance.
The Nelson Mail