Waikato's Darryll King has won the MX2 crown in New Zealand for the past two seasons and this weekend he begins the first step of many on what he hopes will be the path to more national motocross glory.
But the 43-year-old father-of-two says he won't be riding his traditional favourite - the Yamaha YZ250 two-stroke - at the season-opening Motocross Extravaganza in Taupo this Labour Weekend. Instead he will race the Yamaha YZ450F four-stroke, the same model bike he raced to the 2012 world veterans' motocross championships crown in England in August.
The world vets' champion and New Zealand MX2 champion will have his work cut out to match national MX1 champion Ben Townley and MX1 No 3 man Cody Cooper this weekend, but accepting massive challenges is just a part of King's nature.
He has never shied away from challenges in an international career spanning more than 20 years and he's not about to start now, especially with a title defence among his priorities for the coming season.
"I'm running my own team, with Yamaha's support, and will have Waitakere's Ethan Martens riding the MX2 class for me this weekend," King said.
"I've been pretty active all year long, staying on in Europe, racing other international events in Belgium, after the world veterans' championship.
"But now the focus is back here in New Zealand, to defend my MX2 title. I love racing at Taupo and I'm looking forward to this weekend. When you're in your 40s, the jumps at Taupo should freak you out, but I love it there.
"I wrapped up my 2012 title there in March, so I know what works best around that track. The rougher and ruttier the track gets; the better for me.
"I was going to race the MX2 class and I like the 250cc two-stroke the best, but I love racing the big four-stroke too. It's really just a warmup for me this weekend."
King hopes to be at full race pace by the time he races at the Whakatane Summercross on December 29-30 and also at the annual Woodville Motocross GP on January 26-27.
Then the focus goes on the four-round New Zealand Motocross Championships, which kick off near Timaru on February 10, with rounds to follow at Patetonga, a fortnight later on February 24, at Pukekohe on March 10, with the fourth and final round set for Taupo on March 31.
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