Riding a new bike and racing for a new team proved to be good decisions for Queenstown motorbike rider Scott Columb, who claimed the 2013 New Zealand motocross title for the first time on Sunday.
In what has proven to be a breakthrough season for the international rider, Columb, who has been competing in motocross since he was 10 years old, finally nailed his first national title.
“I’m very happy; it took the evening for it to set in . . . I’ve won lots of supercross titles and come close to winning motocross titles in the past so it feels good to finally clinch one,” Columb said.
The 29-year-old four-time runner-up started the 2013 championship strong after partnering with Yamaha and joining the Josh Coppins-managed JCR Yamaha Racing team during the off-season.
Leading the championship from the start Columb won the first round at Timaru and finished second in round two at Patetonga.
Banking valuable points early in the series proved to be a blessing when Columb suffered mechanical problems in the third round at Pukekohe.
Having been hit by another rider in practice, Columb rode in the first two races of the day without rear brakes.
“It’s pretty hard to ride a motorcycle with no brakes.”
Keen to show his rivals he meant business, Columb got his bike sorted and rode the third race hard.
“I really had to pull something out in the final race, Brock Winston [an Australian] and I had a massive battle for the lead . . . if I hadn’t crashed going for the win I would have been on the podium.”
The crash saw Columb finish the third round in sixth place but was good enough to retain his overall points lead.
The final round in Taupo over the weekend provided its share of ups and downs with Columb crashing on the first corner of the final race.
Despite having a lead of 19 points heading into the race, Columb said he had to finish within the top 15 to beat his nearest rival. Sitting at the back of the field after the fall, Columb made his way past 32 other riders to finish within the top 10 and clinch the national title.
“Once I was back in the top 10 I knew I just had to bring the horse home, ride easy and just finish.”
Columb, who is also the reigning New Zealand supercross champion, said nabbing the title would give him more bargaining power should he decide to chase a contract in Australia this year.
However, a ski injury on Coronet Peak when he was 10 could see him laid up until later this year if his surgeon decides to operate on his ACL.
“They don’t operate on them when you are young so I have had to build up the muscles around it . . . I’m going to see my surgeon this week and I could be back on the couch in Queenstown for the next six months.”
Surgery or not, Columb said he hoped to be able to represent New Zealand at the Motocross of Nations event in Germany in September.
– © Fairfax NZ News