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Darryll King

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Darryll King

Born: 1969 -

Inducted into MNZ Hall of Fame: 2017

It is not very often a sports person comes along that can perform at or near the top level of the person's chosen sport for over 30 years.  But Darryll King is no ordinary sportsman.

 

Darryll and his four brothers were born in to a Motorcycle family, his Dad raced bikes and owned a motorcycle business so it was just a natural fit that the King boys would take up the sport. 

 

Darryll started riding at just three years old on Honda QA50 mini bike. But he would have to wait till he was 10 years old before he was to have his first race at a club event in 1979.

 

It was around this time that Junior Motocross was gaining in popularity.  In 1980 Junior Motocross got it's own New Zealand Championship status.  In 1984 Darryll King's name appeared for the first time as a championship winner.  Winning the 12-15 year old 80cc class.

 

The following season was his first in the Senior ranks.  It didn't take long for Darryll to establish himself as a serious Senior competitor.  His first Senior meeting -The Johnny Old MX- he rode a Honda CR125 and CR500.  He won the 125cc class and won the last 500cc race of the day  beating the then reigning New Zealand Champion Murray Anderson.

 

Then a break through in the Senior ranks when he took out the 1986 125cc Senior New Zealand Motocross Championship, which came down to the last round at Pukekohe.  He would follow this up with the Pro- 126cc and over Championship in the 1988.

 

Throughout this period, it was the beginning of a dominate run by Darryll King, Brother Shayne and Darryl Atkins.  These three more than any others were gaining experience in New Zealand, Pacific and Australia and were all destined to International careers.

 

Supercross arrived in New Zealand in the late 1980s, and Darryll showed he could adapt to this having raced in some overseas events.  Racing against top Australians and American International racers at home, he showed that he was equal to them and at many times even better.  Whether racing in Tokoroa, Wellington, Auckland or Christchurch, Supercross was the ideal base to gain even more experience and support at home.

 

Darryll would  firmly plant himself at the top of the New Zealand racing scene in the 1991 season by winning the New Zealand Pro-125 and Pro-250cc Motocross Championships and the New Zealand 125cc and 250cc Supercross championship in the one season.

 

Finally Europe called, so leaving New Zealand on a wing and a prayer, and some support from home.  It didn't take him long to find how difficult it was, living in a van with limited funds and traveling to Grand Prix and International events, it wasn't the glamour life many thought.  There must have been times where it he could have easily come back to New Zealand and been a big fish a small pond.

 

A break through season in Europe in 1995 saw Darryll finish in third spot in the World 500cc Championship on his private Kawasaki, then returned home to New Zealand and winning the Pro-250cc New Zealand Championship in the 1996 season.

 

Returning to Europe in 1996 a tough year finishing fifth in the Championship chase, which saw brother Shayne crowned World Champion.

 

Returning to Europe Darryll would be fighting for the top spot of the World Championship for the next two seasons finishing  runner up in the World in 1997 and 1998 riding for the Husqvarna factory.

 

Returning to New Zealand, he may not have won the World Championship but after eleven seasons abroad he had raced in over 100 Grand Prixs and took five overall Grand Prix victories in Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany and Austria along with other successes.

 

Back in New Zealand, he set up his own riding academy and with a contract with Yamaha he competed in New Zealand and Australia.  He kept winning on both sides of the Tasman winning the 500cc New Zealand Championship in 2002 season and taking the Australian Open Motocross Championship in 2001, 2003 and 2004.

 

Then in the 2006 he took the New Zealand 125cc and 250cc Championship double. Showing there was still fight in the old racer yet, he would win his final New Zealand  championships in 2011 and 2012 taking the MX2 title both times.

 

Just when he looked like he was at the end of the line, by taking the New Zealand MX2 Championship.  He decided to have another shot at Europe.

 

Darryll finally reach the top of the World of Motocross when at the age of 43 he became World FIM Veteran Cup Champion in 2012, returning in 2014 and 2015 to finish runner up both years.

 

A remarkable career indeed, with hundreds of wins and more New Zealand off road titles and major events wins than any other rider in history.  Five World Grand Prix wins, Twice runner up in the World Championship he also represented New Zealand seven times in the MX of Nations.

 

It is not only his successes, but his longevity and determination in the sport that stands him apart from everyone else.  He has suffered life threatening injuries and other disappointments and challenges, but those situations only made him push on to succeed.

 

To be the best in the World and still winning a New Zealand championship 33 years after he first started in the sport is a true superman performance  and should surely be named as New Zealand's greatest ever Motocross rider and a welcome addition to the Motorcycling New Zealand Hall of Fame.

 

Written for Motorcycling New Zealand Inc ©copyright 2017

Fkmedia- Ian Dawson