Tyler Steiner is hoping his quest for 2018 national motocross honours hasn't finished before it has even started.
Rather than being fit, fresh and raring to go, Steiner will head to the first round of the New Zealand Motocross championship in Taranaki on Sunday already in damage limitation mode.
At the same track two weeks ago, riding in the King of the Mountain meeting, he fell, fracturing his sternum. It's an injury with a six- to eight-week recovery time.
"The doctor says if I can cough without it hurting, then I should be able to ride," he said.
He wasn't sure what caused the fall that led to the injury.
"It happened so quick. I just landed off the finish line jump, got on the power and the front started to slide and the bars just yanked so fast and so violently and just ripped out of my hands. As my body was going forward the handlebar went straight into my chest."
He still managed to ride in two more races, despite a tight chest, finishing seventh and then coming from last to fourth.
He said he wanted to get straight back out there, and not let the injury play on his mind at the opening round of the national series. The injury did, however, put him out of the Woodville MX GP over Auckland Anniversary Weekend.
After a rough year and a 12th-place finish in 2017's MX2 national series, Steiner was looking good for a strong first season in the premier MX1 class in 2018.
His first outing on the Kawasaki KX450F at the season-opening MX Fest at Taupo last October saw him finish third in the end-of-the-day shootout behind factory Yamaha rider Kayne Lamont, who won the day and Bay of Plenty legend and six-time national MX1 champion Cody Cooper (Honda).
"That was really good and surprised everyone — I surprised myself a bit too."
His Summercross campaign in December started well with two sixths and a fifth but faded after a fall in his fourth ride.
"At the start, I almost pulled the holeshot, but came together with another rider and went down pretty hard.
"The bike was on top of me and my leg was jammed in the back and by the time I got out of it, everyone was gone. But I finished the race."
The second round is at Rotorua on February 25 with the third and fourth rounds in Hastings and Taupo in March.
Steiner ended his time at Te Puke High School last year and has put future plans on hold to focus on the national series.
Longer term he would like to head over to Australia to ride, or even return to ride in the US.
"We're good in New Zealand, but they are better. A lot of the Australians come over to do our nationals and to do Woodville and it's good to race against them and see where our speed is. Over the years we have been getting closer and closer to them."
Steiner began riding when he got a bike for Christmas as a 4-year-old and started racing at Tauranga Motorcycle Club's Rowe Rd track.
"I've always lived on a farm, so have always been able to ride."