Honda Rider Scott Shows His Amazing Versatility
Oparau's James Scott is a relative rookie when it comes to enduro bike racing, but his dominant performance in Marlborough at the weekend made a mockery of all that.
The talented teenager, a fencing contractor during the week, tackled his first ever enduro event just last year and now, just three days into his 2021 New Zealand Enduro Championships campaign, he has climbed into the top step of the enduro podium.
Honda man Scott is not yet renowned for enduro racing, although that might be about to change, judging by his outstanding performance at the weekend, particularly on Sunday.
The 19-year-old took his Honda CRF250 to finish runner-up at the 2021 New Zealand Motocross Championships, which wrapped up in Taupo in late March, and then immediately decided to take a 2021-model Honda CRF450X enduro bike and tackle the five-round New Zealand Enduro Championships, "just for the fun of it".
Scott finished fourth overall at round one of the enduro nationals near Tokoroa two weeks ago and then, encouraged by that success, he headed south for the double-header second round in Marlborough.
Scott finished fifth overall on Saturday's first of two days of racing in Marlborough, but then stunned everyone when he topped the timing sheets in all four of Sunday's "special tests", winning the day outright, finishing 54 seconds overall ahead of Cambridge's national enduro No.2 Dylan Yearbury.
Yearbury had won the previous day and so these combined results gave Yearbury the overall win for the weekend, with Scott finishing runner-up and Helensville's 2021 series leader Tom Buxton claiming third.
So, after two of five rounds thus far, Yearbury is in the No.1 position for the championship overall, with Buxton now dropping back to second and Scott improving from fourth to third overall.
"I rode the enduro nationals last year just for fun, but now I can see I'm going well enough to take it more seriously," said Scott afterwards.
"It has taken a bit of getting used to the bigger-capacity bike ... the 450cc enduro bike is not as light and nimble as my 250cc motocross bike, but it's still a lot of fun to ride.
"I wasn't that happy with my first day (in Marlborough). I had a hard-surface tyre on the bike and the suspension was set too hard as well, more suitable really for a motocross where there are big jumps. I wasn't getting the traction I wanted. So I softened the suspension and put on softer compound tyres for day two and that seemed to work much better for me.
"These enduro guys can ride fast, that's for sure. I don't know how they do that ... well, I suppose I do now because I won day two didn't I?" he laughed.
"If I can keep my momentum up, I know I can do in the enduro champs. It's a great activity for my motocross off-season. It helps me to improve my skills and teaches me how to ride the more difficult terrain (than motocross)."
There is now a gap in the calendar before competition resumes, with round three of the series, another double-header, scheduled for Moonshine Valley, on the Kapiti Coast, on June 5-6.
"I have not raced at Moonshine before, but I expect it'll be shingle and rocks, similar to some of the stuff I've done already. I'm okay with that," said Scott.
Credit: Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com