Mangakino's Kayne Lamont is back on top of the Kiwi motocross scene, temporarily at least.
The 24-year-old Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team rider made his MX1 class debut a winning one at the annual MX Fest event in Taupo on Sunday. He claimed the main trophy after a day-long battle with reigning national MX1 champion Cody Cooper, of Mount Maunganui.
Lamont was crowned national MX2 (250cc) champion in March 2014, but now he is the
MX1 class rider for the high-profile factory Yamaha team and the pressure was on him over Labour Weekend to quickly adapt to his new Yamaha YZ450F bike. He was also under pressure to battle the cream of the big bike class at one of New Zealand's premier stand-alone events. He did not disappoint.
He kicked off the weekend by winning Saturday evening's Speedcross event, an invite-only, Supercross-style segment of the two-day MX Fest programme.
He headed Taupo's Brad Groombridge, Auckland's Blake Gillard and Cooper across the finish line and that was perhaps an omen for what was to come the following day.
Lamont finished overall runner-up to Cooper after the regulation three MX1 class races on Sunday - Cooper finishing 1-2-1 in the three outings and Lamont 2-1-2. But, then came the quick fire, knockout feature races, a whittling back process that eventually left Lamont, Cooper and Te Puke's Dion Steiner to race the final winner takes all one-lap shootout.
When Cooper crashed out in the first turn of that final showdown, it became a two-man race and Lamont was simply too swift for Steiner, winning the race comfortably. He took the shootout honours to win the MX1 class outright, ending the day two points clear of Cooper and a whopping 24 points clear of eventual MX1 class third-ranked man Groombridge.
"I showed lots of speed all day and that's despite the fact that I'm still getting used to the new bike," Lamont said.
"It's a couple of months now before the nationals begin and, with a little more time riding this bike, I think I can only get better."
Altherm JCR Yamaha racing Team boss Josh Coppins was also pleased with Lamont's performance.
"Kayne seems to be in a good head-space right now," said Motueka's Coppins, a former world motocross No.2.
"There are a couple of areas we need to improve upon, but, he's off to a pretty good start to the season. He's only had four or five rides on the new bike, but I'm happy to say he's already got the speed to win on it. Kayne always goes well here at Taupo, but so too does Cody. It was a good result for Kayne.
"It was a bad end to the day for [Lamont's MX2 class team-mate, also from Mangakino] Maximus Purvis, with him crashing out of the last MX2 race. But, before that unfortunate incident, he was also showing great speed."
Kiwi international Josiah Natzke finished 1-2-2 and eventually won the MX2 class overall and, despite finishing runner-up in the first of three MX2 class races and then winning the second race of the day, Purvis' race three mishap and subsequent non-finish meant he dropped back to seventh overall for the class.
"Luckily, Maximus wasn't too badly injured but he might need a week or two off now. It's early in the season and I'm pleased that we have such a good foundation to build on." Coppins said.
Major events coming up for Lamont and Purvis include the annual Whakatane Summercross after Christmas and the annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville in late January. The four-round nationals follow in February and March.