It was the perfect start to the summer motocross season for Tauranga's Ben Townley, although there was nothing summer-like about the race conditions.
The Carlton Dry Honda star won four races from four starts at the 41st annual Honda Summercross motocross near Whakatane on Sunday, repeating his winning streak at the same event last year.
But the event wasn't really living up to its name this time around, with conditions a stark contrast to the sensationally sunny settings the junior racers had enjoyed a day earlier and it could well have been five MX1 class wins from five starts for Townley if the organisers had not wisely chosen to reduce the event programme when torrential rain turned the Awakaponga circuit into an unpleasant quagmire.
MX1 class runner-up was Bel Ray Timaru Honda rider Justin McDonald, of Christchurch, with visiting English GP star Alex Snow taking third spot on the podium.
Rotorua's Michael Phillips (Bel Ray Rowlinson Honda CRF450), Taupo's Brad Groombridge (Huka Honda CRF450) and Cambridge's Damien King (The Honda Shop CRF450) filled out the top half-dozen placings, making it five Honda riders in the top six.
"I'm pretty happy with my results," said the 28-year-old Townley afterwards.
"I have had quite a bit of time off the bike and it's a long season ahead of me, so I'm not really up to proper race speed yet.
"I still have a lot of testing to do with the new bike but there's no place like a real environment such as this to test things.
"I wish they could hold a national championships round at this venue. It's brilliant."
Meanwhile, fellow Honda star Cameron Dillon, of Taupo, had to be content with finishing runner-up in the MX2 (250cc) class, that battle going right down to the wire with the final corner of the final race deciding in whose hands the trophy would end up.
Dillon won the fourth and final MX2 race of the day but Mount Maunganui's Rhys Carter made a thrilling last-ditch pass on Queenstown-based rival Scotty Columb, just metres from the finish, to claim second spot in that race and also snatch away overall honours for the day.
Dillon (Bel Ray Huka Honda CRF250) finished 1-3-7-1 in his four outings, ending up just on point short of the outright win, taken instead by Carter, who managed 2-2-3-2 in the muck.
"I was having a good day until the rains came," said the 20-year-old Dillon.
"It is encouraging for the upcoming nationals though and makes me hungry to win."