Bay of Plenty's top motocross riders are likely to be near the front of the pack at the annual MX Fest in Taupo, marking the start of the 2018-19 New Zealand motocross season.
They will be among New Zealand's major riders and race teams heading to the 2018 Huka Honda MX Fest on Taupo's steaming pumice and sand Digger McEwen Motorcycle Park circuit, this Labour Weekend.
The Taupo event, held on October 20 and 21, provides an event for new 2019 model bikes to be tuned and set-up for the upcoming nationals, muscles to be flexed, fresh team line-ups and allegiances to be shaped.
World, national and provincial titles count for nothing, international credentials are likely to be challenged and past loyalties go out the window as the new season brings forward fresh and exciting match-ups.
Riders will include Taupo brothers Cohen and Wyatt Chase, Mount Maunganui's Rhys Carter, Cambridge's Seton Head, Taihape's Hayden Smith and Waitakere's Ethan Martens, for example, all now sporting different colours from last season.
Mount Maunganui's Cody Cooper, West Auckland's Hamish Harwood, Mangakino's Kayne Lamont, Taupo's Brad Groombridge, Mangakino's Maximus Purvis, Te Puke's Logan Blackburn and Beachlands rider Blake Gillard are also expected to be in hot form and sure to feature near the front of the pack.
Lamont was the premier class winner at the MX Fest event last year, while Cooper, Carter and Harwood have just returned from a successful campaign in representing New Zealand at the Motocross of Nations in the United States and these riders in particular will really be flying.
In addition, Australian heroes Mason Semmens and Mick McDermid will compete in the race programme.
Now in its 33rd year, the event is expected to attract riders in their hundreds and spectators in their thousands, with the race programme, as usual, featuring the mini riders, junior and women riders on Saturday.
The following day is reserved for senior motocross racing and this will be "shake off the cobwebs" time for all of the leading race teams as they build towards the start of the four-round 2019 nationals, starting in New Plymouth in February.
Some of the leading female riders expected to line up this weekend include Rotorua's Letitia Alabaster, Taupo's Nicolette Epps, Te Kuiti's Samantha Kelly, Nelson's Roma Edwards, Opunake's Taylar Rampton and Rotorua's Mel Patterson, to name a few.
The mini ranks, too, will no doubt feature a few recently crowned national champions, with youngsters such as Teddy Shaw, Wills Harvey, Jordan Coles, Charlie Schaw, Maz Parkes, Jacob Beattie, Hudson Swete and Travis Taylor sure to be among those who shine on Saturday.
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