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Submitted by Andy McGechan
Wednesday, 25th January 2017
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CAPTION: Bulls rider Riley Campbell (KTM 125SX), who came out on top of the juniors grades at the King of the Mountain motocross in Taranaki on Saturday. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

JANUARY 22, 2017: It was a breakthrough moment for Bulls racer Riley Campbell at the annual King of the Mountain motocross in Taranaki at the weekend.

The 16-year-old Rangitikei-Manawatu rider took his AFC Motorcycles KTM125SX to win the all-capacities junior King of the Mountain race near New Plymouth on Saturday, overcoming the threat posed by equally-talented KTM riders Grason Veitch and Brodie Connolly in the process.

This made it a KTM 1-2-3 for the podium, but, more importantly, it was proof that the year 12 pupil at Feilding High School is truly one of New Zealand's leading young motocross talents.

Injuries prevented Campbell from contesting the junior nationals for the past two seasons and, when he last raced the nationals, at Reefton in 2014, he finished 10th overall in the 13-16 years 85cc class, but he has now shown that he should be considered a serious threat for a New Zealand title later this year.

"Grason (Veitch) was catching me late in the race and I made a few mistakes, but I kept it cool and won it in the end," said Campbell.

For 14-year-old Dunedin rider Veitch, finishing runner-up in the King of the Mountain feature race was perhaps a bitter pill to swallow after he had dominated the 14-16 years' 250cc class with a hat-trick of wins earlier in the day, thus making his clear favourite to win the feature, particularly since he was on the more-powerful 250cc machine.

But a rare mistake late in the race caused him to crash while he was closing in on Campbell and so he was forced to settle for the No.2 spot.

Matamata's Connolly had also been dominant earlier in the day, winning the 12-14 years' 125cc class with three wins from three starts, a feat made more remarkable by the fact that he did that with an 85cc bike.

In fact, the KTM brand was so dominant on Saturday, that KTM riders won five of the seven junior classes that were run.

With Taranaki set to host the 2017 New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships at the same Barrett Road circuit on April 22-23, Saturday's junior day of action drew a huge number of entrants, with riders keen to familiarise themselves with the new layout and this explained why riders had come from as far as Invercargill in the south to Auckland in the north and also from Australia.

With wild weather arriving overnight to drench the track, Sunday's senior racing was reduced to just one race per class and the senior King of the Mountain feature race was abandoned altogether.

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com

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