It is time to shape up or ship home for trophy hopefuls in this season's inaugural KTM Extreme Enduro Series as the four-round competition heads toward the pointy end in Te Puke this weekend.
Auckland enduro ace Mike Skinner (KTM) won the opening round of the series in the Riverhead Forest, near Auckland, in November and then Wellington moto trials legend Jake Whitaker rode a KTM to win round two at the Tokoroa Enduro-cross in December. Skinner has since sidelined himself with injury, placing Whitaker in the box seat to consolidate his position this weekend.
Round three, the Te Puke Enduro-cross this Saturday, could be crunch time for any riders with title ambitions and Whitaker can take nothing for granted in this most unforgiving of sports.
Expect to see Tauranga's Jim Lowe-Pattie (KTM), Rotorua's John Haynes (125 Beta Evo), Taupo's Greg De Lautour (KTM), Auckland's Freddie Milford-Cottam (KTM) and New Plymouth's Dougy Herbert (Husaberg), among others, to be challenging for the win in Te Puke on Saturday.
Organised by Tokoroa enduro legend Sean Clarke, the fledgling KTM Extreme Enduro Series brings together the four major extreme enduro events on the traditional Kiwi calendar.
"This is the fourth year that we have run the Te Puke Enduro-cross and, as always, it is popular with spectators because it is right there in the town," said Clarke.
While the four events that make up the series will remain stand-alone events, Clarke is now also offering a special prize to the one outright series winner in each bike class.
The Te Puke event will feature a man-made course that will be similar to the Tokoroa one and again likely to suit the moto trials experts.
"At the series final, the No Way In Hell extreme enduro at Oparau in March, the riders with the best tally from any three of the events will take home the trophy and the bragging rights," said Clarke.
"All the No 1 riders from all the motorcycling codes have come together for this."
The venue for Saturday's racing is at the Te Puke A&P Show Day, Showgrounds Road, at the Maketu turn-off.