Hawkes Bay rider Brook Macdonald's aggression paid dividends in qualifying for the mountain bike world cup downhill in Canada today.
Macdonald, not satisfied with his 20th in the last round in Scotland two weeks ago, was fourth fastest down the long and fast course near Quebec City.
Less than a second behind him was New Zealand national champion Justin Leov, another who has been disappointed with his form in Europe.
Of the 20 Kiwis riding across the downhill and crosscountry disciplines at the event, six have qualified for the elite men's downhill competition - led by Macdonald, with Leov (fifth), Cameron Cole (16th), Sam Blenkinsop (18th) and George Brannigan (20th) through to the finals.
There was good news for Nelson's Kieran Bennett who qualified for his first world cup final this year when he was just inside the top 80 riders.
In-form American Aaron Gwin, chasing a third straight World Cup win, was fastest in qualifying ahead of opening round winner Greg Minnaar of South Africa.
The final is set for Monday (NZ time).
Meanwhile, organisers have stiffened up the crosscountry course to make the traditionally tough and technical terrain even more testing with a harder opening climb.
Leading the way for New Zealand is Rotorua-based rider Samara Sheppard, who is enjoying an outstanding season with a fourth and third placing in her last two world cup races in the women's under-23 division.
Brad Hudson (Christchurch), Tom Bradshaw (Wellington) and Mathew Waghorn (Palmerston North) will contest the men's under-23 class, while Oceania champion Amber Johnson (Rotorua) and Samantha Hope (Dunedin) will race in the junior women's race, all set for Sunday (NZ time).
World championship medallist Anton Cooper returns to world cup action in the junior men's division after winning the opening round in South Africa two months ago.
The Christchurch-based Trek World Racing rider will be joined on Monday (NZ time) by fellow Kiwi juniors Nigel McDowell (Rotorua) and Tom Filmer (Nelson).