Winning major motocross events ... that's something that Whanganui's James Rountree has been making a habit of in recent weeks. The 16-year-old, a year 12 pupil at Whanganui High School, seems virtually untouchable at the moment, in the lower North Island at least, with his trophy cabinet now bulging with Whanganui, Manawatu and North Island title trophies after a string of impressive performances in recent weeks. At Friday's North Island Secondary Schools Championships in Whanganui, Rountree took his 2018-model Yamaha YZ250F to finish 4-1-1 in his three races in the junior 15-19 years' 250cc grade and then backed that up by taking his 2018 Yamaha YZ125 to also score a hat-trick of wins in the junior 15-19 years' 125cc grade. He finished ahead of New Plymouth's Curtis King in the 250cc class and ahead of Patea's Scott Cole in the 125cc class.
The previous weekend, Rountree had finished runner-up to Palmerston North's Luka Freemantle in the 125cc class at the third and final round of the Manawatu-Orion Motorcycle Club Motocross Championships, enough for Rountree to win the series overall, and the Whanganui teenager also won the MX2 (250cc) class on the day, finishing that grade ahead of Levin's Keenan Jeffs and also claiming that title overall for 2018. "I think this kind of form has been coming for a while," said Rountree. "For the last couple of months I've been doing really well, riding with more consistency and just making fewer mistakes. I've been patient on the track and not tried to rush things or push for a pass when it's too risky. "I'm getting ready now to race at the Australian Junior Motocross Championships, at Penguin in Tasmania, at the end of this month. "I didn't go that great at the Aussie nationals when I raced them last season, finishing about 31st out of 60 riders in my grade. But I'm riding a lot better now and at least I know now what to expect over there." Rountree is supported by Bike Torque Yamaha in Taumarunui, Yamaha-Motor NZ, Harvey Round Motors, CFX Seats, Crown Kiwi and Struth Clothing.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan.