Rountree Bags Another Major Motocross Victory

It seems these days that every time James Rountree leaves the race track he is taking another trophy away with him.

For the second time this season, the Whanganui teenager rode his Yamaha YZ250F to collect the silverware in the Junior 14-16 years' 250cc class. He won the junior segment also at the big annual Whakatane Summercross just after Christmas, winning the Junior 14-16 years' 250c class that day, a breakthrough moment for the rising star. And the 16-year-old was again in superb form at the weekend's annual Mach 1 Yamaha-sponsored King of the Mountain Motocross in Taranaki, this event also one of the last major outings before the four-round 2019 senior New Zealand Motocross Championships season gets underway.

But Rountree was twice as successful at Taranaki's King of the Mountain (KoM) event as he had been at Whakatane, winning both the 14-16 years' 250cc class and the 15-16 years' 125cc class on Saturday. "Only a handful of riders did both classes, but it worked out okay for me. I managed to win all three races in the 250cc class. In the 125cc class I finished 2-1-2 and beat Luka Freemantle (from Palmerston North, who finished 1-2-3). "I knew I didn't have to win the last race to win the overall, but just finish ahead of Luka really. I was pretty tired and, when I knew I was ahead of Luka, I backed the intensity off a bit. My fitness is very good at the moment. "I'm pretty happy with how my racing is coming along at the moment. I'll ride the 125cc class at the upcoming senior nationals (which kicks off at the same New Plymouth circuit in less than two weeks' time, on February 3)." Meanwhile, Rotorua's Josh Bourke-Palmer (Yamaha YZ125) was the best of the senior 125cc racers at the weekend's KoM event, finishing ahead of Westport's Reece McBride (Husqvarna TC125). With that, Bourke-Palmer also wrapped up the 125cc class win for the North Island Motocross Series, the Taranaki event registering as the third and final round of that separate competition, and he finished that series ahead of Otorohanga's Carlin Hedley (Yamaha YZ125). Nelson's Roma Edwards took her Yamaha YZ125 to score a hat-trick of wins in the women's grade, finishing ahead of Te Kuiti' Samantha Kelly (Yamaha YZ125) and Hamilton's Amie Roberts (Yamaha YZ250F).

Kelly had the added distinction of winning the class outright for the North Island Motocross Series. Also impressive at Taranaki at the weekend was Whitford's Brandon Draper (Yamaha YZ125), who won the junior King of the Mountain feature race, while Te Puke's Kyan Loomans (Yamaha YZ125) also shone, winning of the 12-14 years' 125cc class.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan