There were few surprises today as Finland emerged top of the standings on the opening day of racing at the International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) near Taupo.
After more than seven hours of hot, dry and dusty racing through the Kinleith Forest north of Taupo, the six-man Finnish Trophy Team ended the day 22 seconds ahead of the French contingent, with Spain third and Italy fourth.
New Zealand is seventh in the elite Trophy Team standings.
Though the Finnish riders are, as expected, dominating the event early on, New Zealand’s Darryll King is keeping the leaders honest.
The current New Zealand 250cc and 500cc motocross champion from Hamilton is racing in the E1 class on a Yamaha WR250 and, in the race-within-a-race stakes, King (37), is only 31 seconds behind the leader in his class, Finnish star Juha Salminen.
A specialist motocross racer and a virtual novice at this long-distance, endurance code, showed that you can teach old dogs news tricks and he was a quick learner today.
“Great start to the six days. I’m only 30 seconds behind Salminen, the champion in the United States this year. Now I know where I’ve got to go left, and where I’ve got to go right. I’ll be much faster from now on.
“The bike was not set up correctly for ducking in and out among the trees but I’ll change a few things and it will be better tomorrow.
Each of New Zealand’s Trophy Team riders — King, his younger brother Shayne, from New Plymouth, Pahiatua’s Paul Whibley, Waimauku’s Chris Birch, Queenstown’s Lachie Columb and Rotorua’s Cam Negus — are well placed as the event heads into day two tomorrow.
Provisional Trophy Team standings after day one of the ISDE near Taupo today:
1. Finland; 2. France, 22 seconds behind the leader; 3. Spain, plus 33s; 4. Italy, plus 1m05s; 5. Sweden, plus 2m04s; 6. Australia, plus 4m05s; 7. New Zealand, plus 5m43s; 8. Great Britain, plus 6m18s; 9. Netherlands, plus 7m24s; 10. Poland, plus 7m40s.
The 2006 ISDE runs from Tuesday, November 14 until Sunday, November 19.
31 Nations, 6 days, 600 riders – 1 winner
14 — 18 November Days One to Five, Special stages held in and around Kinleith Forest, off State Highway 1. Final test held beside Taupo Motorsport Park at the end of each days riding.
Parc Ferme open to public each day.
19 November Day Six, Motocross Special Stage at Digger McEwen Park, Taupo.
19 November Awards ceremony and dinner, Taupo Events Centre, from 6.30pm.