New Zealand's best downhill mountain bikers put their skills to the test in Rotorua during round three of the New Zealand Downhill Mountain Bike Series.
In near perfect conditions yesterday, it was Brook MacDonald, of Hawke's Bay, and Kate Weatherly, of Auckland, who claimed top honours in the elite men's and women's divisions respectively.
The 110 riders in attendance had the morning to complete multiple practice runs and find the best lines on the 2.3km Taniwha course, deep in the Whakarewarewa Forest.
In the afternoon they each had a timed run for seeding before a final run to determine overall placings.
In the elite men's division Rotorua's Keegan Wright, who won round one of the series, looked to be the favourite on his home track. He achieved the fastest seeding time of 3m, 4.99s, 3s faster than MacDonald and 6s faster than Descend Rotorua rider Cole Lucas, who was the winner in round two.
However, in the end Wright had to settle for third place as his final run was 1s slower than in seeding, while MacDonald and Lucas shaved multiple seconds off their own times. MacDonald claimed the fastest time of the day, across all divisions, with 3m, 2.67s, and Lucas took second place in 3m, 5.55s.
MacDonald, who this month signed for the MS-Mondraker team for 2018, said he was pleased with the way his new bike handled.
"It was good, just signed with the new team so it was good to get a win in the first outing on the new bike. I had a good day, the track was amazing and I felt good on the bike.
"I knew I could [shave some time off the seeding run], there were places I could pedal in, so I was pretty stoked with that. There's always a strong field in New Zealand, hopefully that can continue into the future," he said.
In the elite women's division, Weatherly was a class above, beating Tauranga's Shania Rawson, who was battling glandular fever, by at least 30s in both seeding and racing. She finished with a time of 3m, 32.31s. Rotorua's Cati Pearson finished third.
"I was really stoked, it's such a cool track here and so much fun. I was really happy to get down in one piece and take the win," Weatherly said.
"To do well you have to be really confident, so I hit the end jump and that kind of thing which I think helped have that time difference between me and the other girls.
"Shania normally does really well, but she's a bit sick at the moment, so she wasn't super competitive today but I'm sure she'll be back up to speed for the South Island races."
The under-19 and under-17 divisions were packed full of National Performance Hub for Mountain Biking riders who produced some fast-paced runs which many of the elite riders would have been proud of.
Auckland's Josh Oxenham won the under-19, ahead of Rotorua speedster Tuhoto Ariki Pene, and Hunua Mountain Bike Club rider Blake Ross won the under-17 ahead of Rotorua's Finn Parsons.
New Zealand Downhill Mountain Bike Series - Round 3
1st - Brook MacDonald (Hawke's Bay Mountain Bike Club)
2nd - Cole Lucas (Descend Rotorua)
3rd - Keegan Wright (Descend Rotorua)
1st - Kate Weatherly (Auckland Downhill)
2nd - Shania Rawson (Descend Rotorua)
3rd - Cati Pearson (Rotorua Mountain Bike Club)
1st - Carson Rayner (Pohutukawa Coast Bike Club)
2nd - Tom Sinclair (Auckland Downhill)
3rd - Lloyd Jenks (Descend Rotorua)
1st - Josh Oxenham (Pohutukawa Coast Bike Club)
2nd- Tuhoto Ariki Pene (Descend Rotorua)
3rd - Nico Fernandez (Queenstown Mountain Bike Club)
1st - Blake Ross (Hunua Mountain Bike Club)
2nd - Finn Parsons (Descend Rotorua)
3rd - Finn Hawkesby-Browne (Gravity Canterbury)
1st - Nikki Clarke (Wellington Mountain Bike Club)
2nd - Jenna Hastings (Descend Rotorua)
1st - Sam Watters (Hunua Mountain Bike Club)
2nd - Robert Ennor (Hawke's Bay Mountain Bike Club)
3rd - Jake Earnest (Auckland Downhill)
1st - Nathan Rankin (Wellington Mountain Bike Club)
2nd - Dane Nimmo (Descend Rotorua)
3rd - Matthew Hunt (Descend Rotorua)
1st - Nick Skeates (Auckland Downhill)
2nd - Brendan Clarke (Wellington Mountain Bike Club)
3rd - Richard Bodle (New Plymouth Mountain Bike Club)
1st - Gordon Stilwell (Auckland Downhill)