Mount Maunganui's Rhys Carter has made a solid start to his Australian Motocross Nationals campaign to complete last weekend's opening round in Victoria with seventh placing.
Carter, 28, is back on the Australian racing scene after a couple of years break and is riding for Complete Parts Kawasaki Racing in the 450cc MX1 premier class.
Round one was at Newry, in Victoria, where Carter doubled up with a pair of seventh places in the 30-minute motos and he sits seventh in the championship standings.
"I had some small issues in practice and qualifying which the team quickly sorted out and seventh in the first race was a good start," said Carter.
"I got a good start in the second moto but then ended up in a tangle. I had to ride the last 25 minutes with a broken brake lever and I ended up seventh in that one as well."
The Australian MX Nationals is a 10-round series raced over eight weekends (there are two Saturday-Sunday double headers in the mix).
"It's 10 rounds and eight trips across between now and the middle of August," Carter said.
Carter signed his new Australian deal at the end of last year and raced through local events over the summer with the 3Twenty3 Kawasaki squad. He finished fourth in the NZ Nationals during February and March which provided ideal preparation.
"The New Zealand series was good. I was healthy and my fitness and my speed were good and it has put me in good position for Australia," said Carter.
"My aim this year is to become a top-five rider and get some podiums.
"I have to be consistent. It's a long series and things are probably going to happen to a few of the riders. If I can be consistent and score good points I'll be happy."
Carter raced in Australia through a full MX2 (250cc) season in 2012 and also most of the MX1 season in 2013. His 2014 campaign was cut short by injury.
"The racing is tough in Australia," said Carter. "There are more good riders, the races are longer and the tracks tend to be a bit more brutal over there. It's a step up from the New Zealand Championship."
Good form in Australia will put Carter in the frame for another selection in the New Zealand team for the 72nd annual Motocross of Nations teams event which will be staged this year in Buchanan, Michigan, on October 6-7.
"I'm not looking too far ahead and Australia is my focus. If I do well over there then other opportunities should come along," Carter said.
Three other Kiwi riders were in action at the opening round of the Australian Nationals.
Mangakino's Kayne Lamont (Yamaha) is 11th in the MX1 class while New Zealand MX2 champion Hamish Harwood (Takaka) is third in the 250cc class riding for KTM. In the MX Development category for youth riders Mangakino's Maximus Purvis (Yamaha) is ninth after round one.
Round two of the Australian MX Nationals are at Appin, NSW — between Sydney and Wollongong — on April 29 where the track is renowned for deep ruts and challenging riders with difficult racing lines.