Team Suzuki simply can't wait for the new season to heat up.
The two-rider squad has been undergoing final preparations over the past few weeks, using events such as the Labour Weekend Motocross Extravaganza at Taupo as a test session - with major pre- and post-Christmas events fast approaching - to warm up for the NZ Motocross Championships.
The Bel-Ray Lubricants Suzuki team, run out of Moto City Suzuki in Mt Maunganui, will be a force to be reckoned with at the upcoming Whakatane Summercross on December 29-30 and also at the annual Woodville Motocross GP on January 26-27, but the nationals will command most of their focus.
They kick off just outside Timaru on February 10 and, if some of the recent powerful performances by the Team Suzuki riders are any indicator, some of the key silverware could be heading across to the blue and yellow pit enclosure this season.
Mt Maunganui's Cody Cooper heads the Bel-Ray Suzuki Team line-up and he will race the throaty Suzuki RM-Z450 in the MX1 class. He will be joined by housemate Rhys Carter, assigned the MX2 class duties aboard the smaller, lighter and more nimble RM-Z250 machine.
Their pre-champs build-up has been impressive.
Cooper made it three wins in a row when he romped to victory at the 35th annual Tarawera 100 (160km) cross-country endurance race near Kawerau in early July.
He finished nearly two minutes ahead of another former Tarawera 100 winner, national MX2 motocross champion Darryll King (Yamaha YZ250), of Hamilton.
Third overall was Carter, crossing the finish line just 34sec behind King.
Carter then teamed with Manawatu's Jesse Donnelly to win the Acerbis Four-Hour Endurance race near Taupo just over a week ago, further proving he is not only fast and fearless but fit, too.
But those events were perhaps just precursors to the nationals.
"We are very excited by the coming motocross season," said Bel-Ray Suzuki team manager Andrew Hardisty. "Suzuki is providing us with fantastic support once again this year and the key focus is on us gaining race and championship wins.
"Both the MX1 and MX2 classes are very fiercely contested that it requires immense skill and dedication by the riders and their support crew. I know we have the team of individuals who can step up to those demands."
Cooper and Carter know they'll have their work cut out to beat King, Tauranga's Ben Townley (Blue Wing Honda), Taupo's Brad Groombridge (Huka Honda) and Queenstown's Scotty Columb (Murray Thorn Suzuki), Mangakino's Kayne Lamont (CMR Red Bull BikesportNZ.com KTM) and Australian Jesse Dobson (Kawasaki NZ).
After Timaru, the national series heads to Patetonga (February 24), Pukekohe (March 10) and Taupo (March 31).By Andy McGechan Email Andy