Hawke's Bay's Bryn Codd will have an extra incentive to perform when the Bush Riders' Motorcycle Club's Central Cross-country Series begins near Waipukurau on Sunday.
"This will be my last series in the junior ranks and I'm pretty keen to retain my title before stepping up to the senior class," 16-year-old Napier Boys' High School Year 11 student Codd said yesterday.
The Yamaha YZ125 rider is hoping to capitalise on his familiarity with the Waipukurau venue.
"I've raced there a couple of times over the last couple of years," Codd said.
Last season Codd won the five-event series with three firsts, second and third placings before going on to finish second in the national series to Eltham's Adam Loveridge. Last month he won the 90-minute Motomuck Junior 90 race in Taupo so Codd won't be short of confidence on Sunday.
Codd continues to display the benefits of the training he did with former Kiwi international Paul Whibley at his Manawatu base earlier this year.
A former United States and New Zealand cross-country champion, Himatangi's Whibley, will be among the fancied senior starters on Sunday. Others include last season's Central series XC1 class champion Adam Easton and fellow Masterton rider Allan Gannon, who was the outright winner of the series last season.
Others likely to shine include Stratford's Karl Roberts, Eketahuna's Daniel Christie, Feilding's Hugh Lintott, Masterton's Sam Callaghan, Marton's Ethan Breuer, Whanganui's Seth Reardon, Loveridge, Masterton's Jacob Hyslop and Hunterville's Hannah Rushworth, to name a few.
The renowned Pahiatua-based Bush Riders club holds an enviable reputation for staging cross-country dirt bike races and, with such diverse and interesting terrain all within an easy drive of the town, it's not hard to see why this is so. The club's events attract many of New Zealand's leading motocross, cross-country and enduro racers.
As well as serious senior-grade riders, the five-round series also caters for veterans, intermediates, "social" trail bike riders, women and juniors, with the 90-minute junior race set to go at 10am and the two-hour senior race set to blast off at midday.
Additional prize money of $100 is offered to the rider who holeshots (snatches the lead at the first corner of) the senior race and there's also $50 on offer for the junior holeshot rider.
Bush Riders' Motorcycle Club president Grant Christie was keen to emphasise the "famous hospitality" offered.
"It's a real family atmosphere at these events. The social side of these races are as good as the racing, with our legendary free venison barbecue and free refreshments at the end of racing. This is not like a motocross, where everyone just packs up and leaves when the racing is done," he said.
"We are again looking forward to providing a great series and a competition that offers both a challenge for serious racers and a great afternoon's riding for the less serious riders too.
"I think we must be doing something right because the series has continued to grow over the years and attracts riders from near and far."
Always a well-attended series, it can trace its beginnings to 1989, although there have been several name changes over the years, and in 2012, it became known as the Central Cross Country Series.
At each round there will be trophies for first, second and third for the leading overall senior and junior riders and, at the final round, there will be a prize-giving with trophies for the series overall winners and the various class winners.
After Sunday's round the series will continue with round two in Woodville on December 16, another Hawke's Bay-hosted round on February 17, round four in Marton on March 17 and the final round in Eketahuna on April 7.