Bay of Plenty's Cody Cooper is finding form when it really matters, the Honda man celebrating a solid win at the annual King of the Mountain motocross in Taranaki at the weekend.
With the Honda New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville now less than a week away, Mount Maunganui racer Cooper knows now is the time for him to bring out his A game.
That's what he did during Sunday's senior race day at the Barrett Rd Motorcycle Park, on the outskirts of New Plymouth.
With heavy rain falling on the freshly redesigned Taranaki track, racing had initially looked an extremely daunting prospect but, after a lengthy delay, the sun arrived.
The circuit had dried out and had been perfectly re-groomed by the host Taranaki Motorcycle Club crew, allowing for some of the best race action ever seen on this spectacular steep and flowing moonscape.
Cooper dominated the premier MX1 class on his Honda CRF450 at the King of the Mountain (KOTM) on Sunday, finishing 2-1-1 in his three races, leading Hamilton's Josiah Natzke (Kawasaki) and Te Puke's Tyler Steiner (Honda) to the top of the podium.
Meanwhile, Steiner went on to win the standalone King of the Mountain race late in the day, making it double celebration time for the red bike crew.
The KOTM event was a perfect warmup for the championship season ahead and all the riders left Taranaki satisfied with their workouts.
This weekend's 60th annual Honda New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville has double significance this season because it also represents the opening round of four in the senior New Zealand Motocross Championships.
Cooper is not only this season hunting down his fourth Woodville GP crown – he won there in 2007, 2014 and 2019 – but also chasing his eighth national MX1 title.
The KOTM event was the ideal time for him to finally decide on bike settings while, at the same time, it was a great occasion for him to send a stern warning to his rivals.
"I'm really feeling comfortable on this bike now," Cooper said.
"The suspension is awesome and, with minor changes to suit me, I'm loving this Honda.
"It's awesome to come here and ride, this track was fantastic. The rain last night and this morning actually helped things. The club here has done a great job ... doing just the sort of work on the track that I've been asking clubs to do for a long time. They were doing all the grooming here without me even having to ask for it.
"The dirt here (in Taranaki) is always slippery, but today was perfect. Maybe it's just that the bike was so good.
"It all clicked into place for me in the second race today and, after that, I was totally happy with my set-up. This is only my practice bike. This bike's done about 30 hours already. So now we'll do the same thing with my No 1 bike and I'm ready to go.
"I'm 37 years old now too, but I feel as fast as ever."