ISDE Day 3; Team New Zealand is on Edge

November 16, 2006 6:30am

Sport doesn’t get any tougher than the International Six Days Enduro but it just got tougher still for Team New Zealand with a key member of its representative Trophy Team, Hamilton’s Darryll King, forced to retire at the end of day two on Wednesday.

King (37) had been suffering from an elbow injury from the start of the event but managed to surge up the standings.

However, the elbow became infected and swollen and the pain became too much for him to bear. He had been as high as seventh in the E1 class and well on target for a gold medal in this “ironman of motorcycling”.

King’s withdrawal means the Kiwi Trophy Team is now reduced to five riders and they will have to soldier on without the former GP motocross star and current New Zealand 250cc and 500cc motocross champion. Every rider’s score now counts toward the team total and New Zealand no longer has the option of discarding a bad result.

Paul Whibley in action on his Honda CR250

photo: Geoff Osborne

Fortunately, New Plymouth’s Shayne King (36) was still firing on all cylinders and he won another one of the five stages raced today.

With the senior King gone, it seemed to spark more life into the ISDE campaign of Pahiatua’s Paul Whibley (Honda).

New Zealand team manager Shaun Stanbridge (Auckland) said he was thankful Whibley had lifted his game.

“In one special test, Whibley beat four-time former world enduro champion Stefan Merriman, a remarkable feat,” he said.

“We’re naturally disappointed that King is out, the team is disappointed too. It was very unexpected, or wanted, from someone of his calibre. It puts us (Team NZ) in a tight position, as we are now left with only five riders.”

Stanbridge said it drizzled from about 10am, but the bad weather was localised, wet at one stage but hot and sunny at another.

“A lot of riders struggled. A small bridge collapsed under the punishment of more than 600 riders hitting it at speed. This caused some riders to lose time as they searched for alternative routes around the obstacle.”

In addition to Darryll King’s demise, New Zealand’s four-man No.2 team, the Junior Trophy Team for riders under age 23, also lost one of its number and is now reduced to just three riders

Whangamata’s Jason Davis was forced out of the event with mechanical failure.

Davis’ KTM stopped on a ‘transport section’ between two ‘special test’ stages and could not restart within the allotted hour.

Davis suspects the stoppage was because of water in the electrics.

“I spent an hour and a half to two hours trying to fix it, but I didn’t have the resources to repair it on the track,” said Davis.

Shayne King in action on his Honda CRF450X

photo: Geoff Osborne

“I pushed it a long way to the nearest intersection, where the marshals would see it. I knew I had ‘houred out’.

“I’m pretty gutted! I was just starting to get into the groove and felt I would have been on gold medal time. The bike was going awesome when it happened.

“The tests have gone from pure speed to good line selection and riding. There are footpeg-deep holes.”

Official results were not available until late into the night but it is understood New Zealand is still inside the top 10 Trophy Teams and its riders are on target for gold.

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.