Hamilton motocross ace Darryll King knows a thing or two about winning championships, and that's probably just as well considering the intensity of the blowtorch that's been turned in his direction.
The 43-year-old is determined to successfully defend his 2011 national MX2 class title and, for the time being at least, it all seems to be going according to plan.
The Yamaha racer leads the 2012 title chase after the third round of four in the New Zealand Motocross Championships near Pukekohe on Sunday, although he can certainly feel the heat being applied by his main rival, Queenstown's Scotty Columb.
King saw his six-point advantage after round two shaved back to just a single point during the weekend's racing at Pukekohe and he knows it will take a supreme effort if he is to push on and wrap up the title at the fourth and final round at Taupo in a fortnight (March 18).
"I've been racing at this track for a few years now, so it's a bit of a mystery that I'd make the mistake I did when I crashed in the second race today."
King had been in second spot at the time but, with just one lap remaining, he ran out of time to catch up again and had to settle for sixth in that race, his worst result of the series thus far.
"That cost me a lot of points. But I'll be back and stronger than ever at the final round."
The MXDK Yamaha team's MX1 class rider, Motueka's Josh Coppins, also stood out at the weekend.
With Coppins finishing 2-1-2, the South Islander managed to put a halt to the win-streak being enjoyed in the class by Tauranga's Ben Townley, but time is running out for Coppins to move up.
"I've been playing catch-up all series because, while I was recovering from injury, I couldn't train properly to build up for the championship.
"I'm enjoying the intensity of the racing and I feel my pace is improving. I believe I will be 100% again by the time the Australian nationals kick off (on April 1)."
Coppins remains in the runner-up spot for the New Zealand MX1 championship - 21 points behind Townley - with just the fourth and final round at Taupo to wrap up the series.
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