The 2019 New Zealand Enduro Championships kick off in the Thames-Coromandel District this weekend and it's anybody's guess as to who might win.
Boosted from five to seven rounds this season, the Yamaha and Mitas tyres-sponsored series will take riders from round one at Whangamata in the north this Saturday, to round seven at Hokitika in the south, each offering extreme and varied terrain challenges for the riders.
But, difficult landscape aside, it is the talent of the riders and the reliability of their bikes that will determine who finishes on top when the final round wraps it all up in July.
One thing is almost certain – a new outright champion will be crowned in 2019.
Taupo's defending national enduro champion Brad Groombridge injured himself while racing at the final round of the New Zealand Motocross Championships in Taupo last weekend, ruling him out of action this coming Saturday and possibly for longer than that too.
Among the talented riders capable of stepping forward is the just-turned 21-year-old Seth Reardon.
Reardon came fourth overall at the opening round of the New Zealand Cross Country Championships near Norsewood in early February, with the next round of that series set for March 24 in Mosgiel District.
But as well as Reardon for the Enduro Championships, Wainuiomata's Jake Whitaker and Helensville's Tom Buxton are expected to battle near the head of the field tomorrow, while another young gun in Whitianga's Blake Wilkins will join Reardon in looking to keep them honest.
Whangamata's Jason Davis returns to the race scene after several years away from the sport to raise a family and the former national champion is sure to be a contender, especially on home turf.
"It will be exciting to see Jason Davis back in action. It's always a thrill to see him in action," said Motorcycling NZ's enduro commissioner Justin Stevenson.
"The racing will be a good test of man and machine and will cater for all abilities.
"The venue at Whangamata is one of the most popular on the calendar, sure to attract a large number of entries."
Racing will be held at Taungatara Forest, off State Highway 25, between Whangamata and Hikuai, and starts at 10am.
There are 15 classes in total to cater for everyone, including two non-championship intro trail rider classes, and only six rounds count, with riders to discard points from their worst round.
The terrain is mostly clear-felled tree areas and virgin clay and ash-based forestry tracks.
The national championship riders will be doing three loops of just under 50km and comprising five terrain tests.