MOTOCROSS: AUS: Season finale at Wonthaggi preview

Darryll King aiming to complete ceremonial duties After the toughest of campaigns, the 2004 Maxxis Australian Motocross Championship will conclude at Wonthaggi (Vic) this Sunday, August 15, with Yamaha-backed Darryll King a near certainty to...

Darryll King aiming to complete ceremonial duties

After the toughest of campaigns, the 2004 Maxxis Australian Motocross Championship will conclude at Wonthaggi (Vic) this Sunday, August 15, with Yamaha-backed Darryll King a near certainty to claim his third Pro Open trophy in four years.

The irrepressible King, 35, who won his maiden Australian championship in 2001, has shown all comers a clean pair of heels in 2004 on his CDR/Boost Mobile/Yamaha YZ450F, with his meld of raw speed and race craft taking him to eight wins out of 14 races contested, with his six other 'failures' all good enough to earn him a place on the podium.

The end result of the remarkable strike rate is that the New Plymouth-based King has forged a 48pt (326 to 278) lead over sibling Shayne King (No Fear Honda CRF450R) after seven of the eight rounds. As it stands, Shayne, the 1996 world 500cc motocross champion, is the only other rider capable of stopping Darryll retaining the Pro Open title -- but that's only holding onto faint hope under the guise of 'mathematical' chance.

The equation is simple -- if Shayne wins the opening 30-minute (plus a lap) moto at the demanding Wonthaggi layout, Darryll only has to finish 19th or better in the same race to guarantee the championship remains in his keeping.

When asked if he was aware of the formalities required to win the championship, Darryll replied: "To be honest, I'm not even thinking in those terms. My main aim at Wonthaggi is to keep the ball rolling like I have in the previous seven rounds, and everything should take care of itself.

"And I know that Shayne is in good form, because he beat me in the opening round of the New Zealand motocross title last weekend, and I expect he will continue his good run this weekend.

"Wonthaggi is one of my favourite tracks -- the sand and roughness always makes it a real challenge. Plus, I've won there a few times, so the memories are good.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge, and to win a third Aussie title in three years would be just sensational."

Darryll's top-shelf form at Wonthaggi includes a clean sweep of the 2001 round of the Australian Motocross Championship, when he led home Cameron Taylor (twice) and Shane Metcalfe (once) in the three motos. It was the New Zealander's first full year on the local scene after a stellar career on the world championship trail alongside Shayne.

While the intra-family rivalry will be the main focus on Sunday, a posse of other riders will be out to maintain the lustre, including Motorex KTM teammates Jay Marmont (251pts) and Victorian Cheyne Boyd (223). Marmont, who currently has two national supercross titles in his keeping, finally broke through for his first win of the year in round seven on his 450 SXR, after six previous visits to the podium. With his victory, the 21-year-old became the fifth 2004 winner, joining Darryll (eight), Shayne (three), Corrie Sargent (one) and Craig Anderson (one).

Meanwhile, Wonthaggi is something of a local affair for the Rosebud-based Boyd (450SXR), who, at any rate, looks set to improve two spots on his finish in the 2003 national championship.

After Boyd, just 17pts separates fifth to eighth in the championship - Lee Ellis (Sale Honda CRF450F, 193) currently the leading the logjam from Danny Ham (Shift Motul Suzuki RM250, 183), Troy Carroll (CDR/Boost Mobile/Yamaha YZ450F, 177) and Sargent (Full Throttle Sports CRF450R, 176). If the current status quo remains, Ellis stands to make a huge personal gain -- he was 14th in 2003.

In Pro Lites, two riders will also slug it for the ultimate prize -- but in far testier circumstances. Paradoxically, New Zealander Cody Cooper (No Fear Honda CRF250R) has done most of the winning -- nine from 14 -- but yet Cameron Taylor (CDR/Boost Mobile YZ250F) remains only 11pts (297 to 286) in arrears with two races remaining.

That's the smallest lead that 20-year-old Cooper has held all year, after he went through the opening two rounds undefeated -- invoking memories of Troy Carroll's sublime Pro Lites form from 2003. However, he eventually came back to the field, while 30-year-old Taylor has taken on the mantle of Mr Consistency -- he has never accumulated less than 38pts in a round.

Now Wonthaggi shapes as the waterloo for one of the riders, where Cooper must start as the slight favourite to win his maiden Australian championship. Taylor, meanwhile, looks set to eclipse his previous best effort in an Australian motocross championship -- he was third in the 1998 250cc title, a position he also repeated in the 2001 quarter-litre battle behind King and Anderson.

In a championship where 13 riders have finished on the podium in 2004, Troy Dorron (No Fear Honda CRF250R) is currently third on 254pts, well ahead of Daniel McCoy (CDR/Boost Mobile/Yamaha YZ250F, 190), Daniel Reardon (Whales Kawasaki KX250F, 171) and Mitch Hoad (Shift Motul Suzuki, RM-Z250, 164).

In addition to the action from the two pro classes, the final round of the Yamaha Australian Women's Cup will also be held on Sunday, with Lisa Irwin (Honda, 132pts) and Mary Perkins (Yamaha, 128) set to battle it out for title honour. Honda duo Rebecca Lipsett and teenager Kristy Gillespie are deadlocked on 98pts. All the action begins at 9.00am, with admission $20 for adults, $10 for children 5-15 and $50 for a family.

-www.ma.org.au

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