Tauranga's Brodie Connolly has raced to 13th place at the World Junior Motocross Championship in Australia, where he has been identified as "the most impressive of the Kiwis".
The 14-year-old, a Tauranga Boys College year 10 student, was part of Motorcycling New Zealand's three-rider squad contesting the 125cc class at the world championship event at Horsham, Victoria, on Sunday.
None of the New Zealand contingent managed to end the weekend on the podium, with Oparau's James Scott finishing as the best of the Kiwis, ending the competition seventh overall in the premier 125cc class. This came despite Scott, who has been contesting the European 125cc Championship in recent months, making life difficult for himself with a shocking start in the first of his two races on Sunday.
KTM rider Connolly and team-mate Hayden Smith (Taihape) both scored 14 points with the tiebreak working in Connolly's favour by finishing one place ahead in the second moto to secure 13th overall in the 35-rider field.
Connolly had finished 11th in the first of the 30-minute races and ran as high as third in the opening laps of the second moto before finishing in 17th place.
Tauranga's Ben Townley, the former world champion who had worked as mentor to Scott, Connolly and Smith, said, for him, Connolly was "the most impressive of the Kiwis".
"Brodie was the rider of the weekend, I feel. He's tenacious and had quite high expectations, but I said to him he needed to lower them and he didn't want to.
"The mission for Brodie this weekend, at only 14 years of age, was to get two good starts and show the world what he could do — and he did exactly that.
"For James [Scott], it was a nice effort by him to fight back from his poor start, but he should not have had to do that. We had expected him to be in a podium position and he didn't achieve that, which was disappointing.
The close-fought 125cc title for under-17 riders was won by Australia's Bailey Malkiewicz with a 2-1 performance for 47 points to edge out Italian Mattia Gaudagnini, who posted 1-3 effort and 45 points. Czech rider Petr Polak was one point further back with a 3-2 result to complete the podium.