Our Scotty’s dirt bike hard yards

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A Queenstowner has beaten a quality field to take out a gruelling off-road dirt bike marathon in the North Island. 

Scott Columb, a tour guide for Queenstown’s Off-Road Adven­tures company, teamed up with Te Awamutu’s Mark Penny to win the six-hour race on forestry land between Taupo and Tokoroa. 

The pair, co-riding a Suzuki RM-X450, finished more than four minutes ahead of Aucklander Chris Power and Adam Reeves of Palmerston North. 

It was Penny’s fourth win in the event but Columb’s first. When they previously paired up for it in 2005, they got a flat tyre and had to settle for runners-up. 

Early in Saturday’s race, Penny and Columb were made to work hard, with Tauranga’s Reece Burgess – riding solo – grabbing the lead at the start. Auckland pairing Freddie Milford-Cottam and Michael Skinner were also challenging the leaders. 

Penny and Columb snatched the lead on their third lap of nine and, from there, they never looked back. 

Columb, 28, says it was tough at first to get to grips with the race when he took over the bike for their third and fourth laps. 

“I had only been back in the country a week after doing supercross training in Georgia in the United States. So, to come from doing massive jumps to riding in the bush and dealing with slippery tree roots was quite an adjustment to make. 

“The first lap was pretty daunting but I got better after that,” Columb says. 

“I had won my bike class at this event in the past but never won the event overall before, so that was great.” 

Columb now heads across the ditch to race in the first leg of the 2012 Australian SuperCross Champion­ships in Dubbo, New South Wales, on Saturday. 

Andy McGhecan is the editor of bikesportnz.com