MOTOCROSS: AUS: Round one preview

Darryll King out to defend title honour The opening round of the uprated 2004 Maxxis Australian Motocross Championship will be held at Barrabool, near Geelong (Vic) on Sunday, May 16, with Yamaha-backed New Zealander Darryll King out to...

Darryll King out to defend title honour

The opening round of the uprated 2004 Maxxis Australian Motocross Championship will be held at Barrabool, near Geelong (Vic) on Sunday, May 16, with Yamaha-backed New Zealander Darryll King out to defend title honour in the Pro Open class.

King (CDR/Yamaha/Boost Mobile YZ450F), a five-time world motocross GP winner, headlines a 40-strong Pro Open cast in the opening round of the national championship, which will be held over eight rounds in 2004 instead of last year's five -- as well as reviving the legendary Mr Motocross moniker.

King is already a two-time (2001/2003) Australian motocross champion in the Pro Open division, and finished second in 2002 behind KTM's Craig Anderson. In 2003, he defeated sibling Shayne King (Honda) to claim the honours, with South Australian Shane Metcalfe (Honda) third. Now, after clean sweeping the New Zealand four-stoke title as a 'warm-up' to his latest Australian offensive, Darryll is brimming with confidence.

"I am really excited about the Australian season," said Darryll. "I feel great and my results show I am on track.

"I would love to take out both championships (he's also competing in the Pro Lites division). I have been working hard on my fitness; changing my training a bit to reflect the extra races I will be taking on."

Nine out of last year's Pro Open top 10 will saddle up at the Barrabool for the two, 30-minute (plus a lap) motos, including No Fear Honda teammates Shane King and Metcalfe on CRF450Rs; Motorex KTM pairing Jay Marmont and Cheyne Boyd (both KTM450SXs); while Danny Ham (Shift Motul Suzuki RM250) and multiple Pro Lites champion Troy Carroll (CDR/Yamaha/Boost Mobile YZ250) will be out to maintain two-stroke integrity against the booming four-strokes.

Of the sextet, Marmont, from Wollongong (NSW) carries in the most intimidating form into the motocross opener, notwithstanding that his most recent successes have come in the thrust and parry of supercross. Marmont's dossier includes an emphatic victory in the inaugural Australian Supercross Nationals, which included in Melbourne in early April, followed by a superb fourth-place cameo in the penultimate round of the AMA 125cc West Coast supercross title in Texas.

After leading last year's Pro Open title after the opening round, Marmont eventually finished fifth, behind Yamaha's Paul Broomfield.

Meanwhile, Shayne King, the 1996 world 500cc motocross champion, has finished third and second in the past two Pro Open championships, and will be banking on 2004 as his 'breakthrough' year on Australian soil. And Carroll, after an injury interrupted start to 2004, is a blue-ribbon performer in motocross -- his near whitewash of last year's Pro Lites title (372pts out of a possible 375) a case-in-point.

Speaking of Pro Lites, two 20-minute qualifying sessions will be required to trim the 66 riders back to a capacity field of 40 this Sunday, with the class expected to serve up some brilliant entertainment around the natural amphitheatre circuit.

The experience and guile of Darryll King (CDR/Yamaha/Boost Mobile YZ250F) must rank him as the pre-event standout, but that nominal favoritism will mean little to the likes of Troy Dorron (No Fear Honda CR250R), who has finished 2-1-2-1 in the last four Pro Lites (nee 125cc) titles dating back to 2000 -- a phenomenal level of consistency from the Geelong rider.

In what is expected to be a cut-throat affair, other leading contenders will include Mitch Hoad (Shift Motul Suzuki RM-Z250), 19-year-old Daniel McCoy (CDR/Yamaha/Boost Mobile YZ250F), New Zealander Cody Cooper (No Fear Honda CRF250R), Cameron Taylor (CDR/Yamaha/Boost Mobile YZ250F), Warren Smart (Race Tech Honda CRF250R), Jye Harvey (No Fear Honda CRF250R), Daniel Reardon (Whales Kawasaki/SIC/Motul KX250F) and Ryan Marmont (Motorex KTM 125SX).

Eighteen-year-old Reardon and Marmont won five of the nine finals in the fledgling Australian Supercross Nationals, with Marmont eventually claiming the silverware. The duo look set to be contemporaries for many years to come, in addition to the likes of fellow Pro Lites punters Danny Anderson (Red Bull KTM 125SX), Brent Landman (Team Kawasaki KX250F), Cameron Sinclair (Powerhouse Airtime KX250F) and Adam Cini (Serco Yamaha YZ250F).

The Pro Lites field is nearly at full strength, with the most notable absentee that of Toby Price (Team Kawasaki Australia KX250F), who won the two senior classes at last year's Australian junior motocross nationals, but is currently indisposed with a broken leg.

As mentioned, the Maxxis Australian Motocross Championship will also be known under the Mr Motocross Outdoor Nationals moniker in 2004, which marks the revival of a name which was last used in 1990 when Craig Dack -- now the principal of CDR Yamaha -- won the last of his four Mr Motocross titles.

The Mr Motocross series first began in 1974 at Sydney's now-defunct Amaroo Park, and just a few years later had built up an enormous amount of cachet -- it was considered the de-facto national championship. The inaugural title was won by Trevor Flood, after which just six other riders claimed the silverware -- Stephen Gall the most successful with five in a row from 1978-82.

After a glorious period through the 1980s, Mr Motocross eventually succumbed to commercial pressures at the end of 1990 -- just as the official Australian championship was on the cusp of adopting a multi-round concept.

Practice begins at 9.00am at Barrabool on Sunday, with the opening race -- a women's cup -- slated for 11.30am. The opening Pro Lites moto will be held at 12.45pm. Entry is $20 for adults and $10 for children. There's free entry for children under five.

For more information on the 2004 Australian Motocross Championship, visit the official website at www.ozmotox.com

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About this article
Series General
Drivers Toby Price
Tags MOTORCYLE