Tauranga's Ben Townley is now deep into his final preparation for a full-time return to World Championship Motocross racing in 2016.
Townley, 30, is already based in Europe and has started testing the 2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 with the Suzuki MXGP team.
The 2004 MX2 world champion flew first to Belgium and then headed to the Red Sand MX Park near Valencia in Spain for testing with MXGP teammate Kevin Strijbos (Belgium) and MX2 rider Bas Vaessen (Netherlands).
He has also upped the training programme he had been doing at home in the Bay of Plenty.
"It's my first time down here in Benicassim and I'm really liking it," said Townley.
"The team has been training here for a week now and it's great that I can join them.
"I like being able to ride with my teammates. I've known Kevin since my first year in Europe and we get along fine; and this is also a great chance to get to know the younger guys."
The training session in Spain was also the first time that Townley has worked with Suzuki MXGP Team general manager Stefan Everts. The 10-time MX world champion has been at the track with the team and sharing his experience as much as possible.
"I'm looking forward to working with Stefan," said Townley.
"I'm curious as to what he has to say about my riding and how he thinks it is going. My speed still needs to come up a little, so I've got a few areas to work on in the coming weeks. Still, it was tough leaving my family behind. I'm missing them a lot already."
Everts was happy to have his second MXGP rider coming to Europe this early in the year.
"I'm happy that he [Townley] has made the trip already and now he has the time to acclimatise to the colder weather and the time difference. Ben is in great shape and ready to train with his teammates on the same rhythm."
Townley is feeling confident on the 2016 Suzuki RM-Z450.
"I really feel like this bike fits me so well and I have a lot of fun riding it. I've been able to test a few more things since I arrived and that has improved the bike even more for me."
The 18-round MXGP season starts in Qatar on February 27. Townley is scheduled to make his Suzuki debut at the Hawkstone Park International event in the UK on February 7.