Pahiatua ace Paul Whibley had to settle for fifth place when the 2013 Off-Road Motorcycle cross-country series got under way in the United States last weekend.
The defending champion, Whibley was hopeful of a bold showing in the event at Tuscumbia, Alabama, and a win looked possible when he took the early lead.
American rival Russell Bobbitt took advantage of a mistake by Whibley at one of the corners and the two called the tune until a flurry of activity saw Whibley drop several more placings.
A collision with another rider led to him being stuck under the latter's bike and by the time he got back on his Yamaha the leaders were gone, and despite his best efforts fifth was the best Whibley could do.
It was a disappointing start for Whibley, who won almost every round of the off-road series last year and had the title wrapped up with two rounds still to go.
He is now preparing for the first round of the parallel Grand National Cross-Country championships.
It will be raced in Florida on March 12.