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JANUARY 19, 2015: Things are starting to look up for Queenstown motocross ace Scott Columb after he was crowned Taranaki's King of the Mountain on Sunday.


The 31-year-old former national motocross champion has had a lean run of luck at recent high-profile events, the Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team rider always a contender but, even as recently as a week ago, when he raced at the Valley Championships at Patetonga, he frustratingly missed out on claiming the overall win on that occasion because of the "count-back" rule, which gave the nod instead to his team-mate Ethan Martens.


Columb and Martens had finished that day level on points, but Martens was awarded the win because he'd finished higher in the final race of the event.

But the day belonged solely to Columb at Sunday's annual King of the Mountain Motocross on the outskirts of New Plymouth.


Columb took his Yamaha YZ450F to finish third and second in the day's two preliminary MX1 class races before lining up for the all-capacities feature final, the stand-alone race that would determine the King of the Mountain for 2015.

Columb was fifth out of the start gate and, with the track becoming rough and dust starting to rise, he knew he had to act fast and not let the leaders get away on him.


"I made a couple of quick passes and was up to third by the end of lap one," said Columb.


"I soon caught right up to (race leader) Ethan Martens and decided to stick behind him to see what lines he was taking. I was slowly chipping away at his lead and it was important for me to be within a metre of so of his rear wheel because any further back and it meant I was blinded by his dust.


"I eventually made the pass and that was that," he said matter-of-factly.


With positions in the feature race also counting for points in the separate bike categories, the feature race win was enough for Columb to finish overall runner-up in the MX1 class, finishing the event just one point behind Mount Maunganui's Rhys Carter.


Carter won the day's earlier two MX1 races, but could manage only third in the feature final.


Martens had twice finished fourth in the MX1 class races and, despite backing that up with a runner-up finish in the feature race, this was only sufficient for him to finish fourth overall in the MX1 class, behind Rotorua's John Phillips.


"This is good for me in terms of preparation for the nationals, especially since the first round of the New Zealand Motocross Championships will be at this track (on February 8)," said Columb.


"I have not raced here since 2009 and that year I finished second in the championships to Mike Phillips (of Rotorua). You could say I have a bit of unfinished business in Taranaki. The track here needs to be respected but I feel I'm just about ready for the nationals now."


The Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing team is supported by Altherm Window Systems, Yamaha, JCR, CRC, Ados, GYTR, Yamalube, Fox Racing, Hollands Collision Centre, Star Moving, Ward Demolition, Fulton Hogan, Pirelli, FMF, DID, NGK, Matrix, Renthal, Motomuck, Workshop Graphics, Motoseat, Hammerhead, SKF, Vertex Pistons, Rtech Plastics, Etnies, Biketranz, Fulton Hogan.


Words and photo by Andy McGechan,