Tauranga's Brodie Connolly has made a flying start to his senior motocross racing career.
The just-turned 15-year-old, who represented New Zealand at the recent World Junior MX Champs in Australia, began the 2018-19 season with an unbeaten Saturday effort in the Junior 15-16 Years 125cc class at Labour weekend's annual MX Fest motocross extravaganza in Taupō.
Connolly then lined up again on Sunday in the National 125cc category for his senior racing debut and clinched a second Labour Weekend victory. He won all three National 125cc races, taking the lead on the opening lap and riding clear to score comfortable wins.
The fourth race of the day was an all-in feature race against the bigger capacity bikes race in a series of elimination sprints. Connolly didn't progress beyond the first phase after being delayed in a first lap traffic jam but it didn't impact his overall 125cc result, beating Rotorua's Joshua Bourke-Palmer (Yamaha) by 16 points.
''It was a great way to start out as a senior,'' says Connolly, who has signed on with the LMC Husqvarna Racing team for the 2018-19 season and only rode his new bike for the first time a week before the Taupō season opener.
''I wanted to do well today and hoped I could win but I didn't go into the day expecting it.
''I can still ride in both junior and senior racing and I'll be doing both at some of the big meetings before the New Zealand Champs start in February.''
Connolly is a Year 10 student at Tauranga Boys' College and his achievements have been recognised as a finalist in the BOP Secondary Schools Sportsman of the Year Awards. And the Tauranga Boys College MX Team has also been named as a finalist in the Secondary School Boys' Team of the Year category.
''There are 30 riders in our school team and it's cool that motocross is getting some recognition,'' Connolly says.
Sunday's 450cc class racing at Taupō produced a duel between Yamaha riders Rhys Carter (Mount Maunganui) and Kayne Lamont (Mangakino).
Carter started strongly and posted two wins and was leading the third race with just one corner remaining when he crashed into a fence after a cross-rutted landing. He re-mounted to salvage second but another crash during the top-10 phase of the shoot-out cost Carter the chance of a Labour weekend win.
''I had the speed today but I didn't quite put it all together,'' Carter says.
Lamont took the MX1 honours with 92 points from Carter on 83 and Taupo's Cohen Chase (Kawasaki) with 80 points. Tauranga's Ben Townley (KTM) was fourth ahead of Te Puke's Tyler Steiner (Kawasaki).
A close-fought MX2 (250cc) class saw three different race winners with Mangakino's Maximus Purvis (Yamaha) edging Taupo's Wyatt Chase (Honda) by one point.
The shoot-out feature race built to an intense finish with a three-rider, single-lap sprint that saw Lamont lead home Townley and Cohen Chase.