First For Lamont But Three In A Row For Yamaha Team

Kayne Lamont is the new champion of New Zealand's most prestigious dirt bike event, the 24-year-old building apprentice simply stunning onlookers when he won the 57th annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville on Sunday.

Hamilton's Lamont took his Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team YZ450F to the front soon after the start of the event's signature race, the invitation feature, and he quickly opened up a solid advantage. Behind him a battle raged between Australian former Woodville champion Kirk Gibbs and Mount Maunganui's Rhys Carter, but Lamont kept his cool and eventually crossed the finish line a safe 4.4 seconds ahead of Gibbs, with Carter taking the third step on the podium. “I wasn’t even thinking about the significance of winning this race … I was simply concentrating on not making mistakes,” said Lamont afterwards.

It could have been an even more glorious weekend for Lamont, had he not suffered disaster in Sunday's first MX1 class race. Lamont had qualified fastest – indicating he’d be a serious title contender at the nationals this year – and he was leading the first of Sunday’s three MX1 class races when he crashed and handed the win instead to Mount Maunganui's national MX1 champion Cody Cooper. “I had a small mishap in a muddy rut. I actually crashed three times in that race,” Lamont explained. “The bike took ages to get going after I crashed and then I crashed twice more trying to catch up. I simply salvaged what I could from that,” Lamont said, eventually settling for 15th place at the chequered flag. Following massage treatment in the pits, the battered Lamont managed fourth and fifth in the next two MX1 races, good enough only for seventh overall in the class, but his performance in the feature race would be the key one for the record books. Lamont was thrilled to join a long and illustrious list of winners of New Zealand's most famous motocross, a list that also includes his team boss, Motueka's Josh Coppins. Coppins was a rare five-time winner at Woodville – champion there in 1996, 1999, 2000, 2008 and 2011 – before he retired from fulltime racing in 2012, although he has since gone on to taste success several times there in his role as team manager. Coppins' achievement record at Woodville now extends well beyond his five personal wins, with Lamont's win on Sunday now making it three times in a row that his team's MX1 class rider has secured the Woodville trophy.

Australian Dean Ferris won the title for the Altherm JCR Yamaha Team in 2016 and again last year. Lamont’s victory this year was significant also because he broke the drought ... it had been three years since a Kiwi had last won there. Cooper won the crown in 2014, but it was Gibbs who took it in 2015 and then fellow Australian Ferris won it the following two years. Meanwhile, the successes kept piling up for Yamaha at the weekend, with Lamont's Mangakino-based team-mate Maximus Purvis (Yamaha YZ125) winning the 125cc class; Whakatane’s Darren Capill (Yamaha YZ450F) winning the veterans’ class and Melbourne visitor Maddy Brown (Yamaha YZ250F) winning the women’s class. Meanwhile, another visiting Australian, Melbourne’s Bailey Malkiewicz, who was sharing the Altherm JCR Yamaha facilities, won the 14-16 years’ 250cc class during junior racing on Saturday.

The Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing team is supported by Altherm Window Systems, Yamaha, JCR, CRC, Ados, GYTR, Yamalube, bLU cRU, Fox Racing, Hollands Collision Centre, Star Moving, Ward Demolition, Pirelli, Akrapovic, DID, NGK, Renthal, Motomuck, www.workshopgraphics.co.nz, Motoseat, SKF, Vertex Pistons, Rtech Plastics and Etnies.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan