Year 8 Wanganui Intermediate School student Drew McKinlay has finally found his niche sport and now he has the silverware to prove it.
After just two years in the saddle, McKinlay finished second overall in his class at the 52nd annual Honda New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville during the weekend.
The meeting traditionally kickstarts the national season and attracts full fields of riders from across the country and from throughout the world, although mainly in the higher classes.
McKinlay competes in the 7-11 year AFC Mini Trail MX class on his CRF100 Honda, sponsored by mum and dad, Jo and Grant McKinlay, and uncle Kevin Battersby's company, KB Environmental.
Young McKinlay rode in three events during the weekend, finishing second in all three to claim his trophy.
He was beaten by Shannon Blake, from Napier, also riding a CRF100 Honda.
"It was a bit of a buzz. I just love the sport. My idols are my dad, who raced motocross and Chad Reid, from the USA, and Ben Townley," McKinlay said yesterday.
Townley is a former national and world champion in the 450cc class and was again a winner at Woodville at the weekend.
McKinlay said: "Even my teachers know how much I love the sport, they buy motorbike books to make me read."
Mum Jo said the weekend racing had heightened anxiety levels a tad, with older son Trent (14) also competing on the day. He finished 19th of 40 in his grade on his CRF150 Honda.
"Grant has raced for some time, but put his hobby aside to help the boys get a start. He makes sure they get used to their bikes before stepping them up to more powerful machines. It was a bit nerve-wracking with both boys racing at the weekend," she said.
Drew McKinlay is no stranger to national honours, having won last year at a national meeting hosted by the Wanganui Motocross Club, of which he is a member.
"That was on my first bike, a CRF70. I turn 12 in March, so move up a grade for my next big meeting in New Plymouth in October, but I hope to have a different bike - my brother's CRF150," he said.