Whanganui driver Hamish Auret has once again been recognised as the bridesmaid of the Suzuki Extreme 4x4 Challenge, falling short of national glory at this year's event.
Neville Mather and Richard Verner from Nitro Customs took out the 2021 title, edging Auret and Paul Barnes by a mere 450 points.
Auret, who was one of the additions to the competition, finished second after an electrical issue with his vehicle on the final few tracks stopped him short of claiming the national title.
Organiser Dan Cowper has deemed last weekend's Suzuki Extreme 4x4 Challenge the most successful in the competition's short history.
Around 3500 people gathered just north of Turakina for the sixth edition of the event, with Cowper crowning it the best day the competition has had.
"It was an epic day, to be honest. The weather was brilliant, that's a big part of it. The crowd was massive. Our gate takings are the best we've ever had there.
"As soon as the trucks started up, you knew it was going to be a good day. The crowd got right into it."
Cowper said it was a shame local lad Auret, representing Cowper Trucks, couldn't claim his inaugural Extreme 4x4 Challenge title, after finishing second a number of times over the years.
"There were two guys who did well all day - Neville Mather who won the event and Hamish. Hamish came a bit unstuck in a little water hole which created electrical problems with his motor and couldn't exit the rest of the course which probably cost him the day.
"Neville actually had a massive problem with his differential, the front diff was making horrendous noises for half the day. No one could believe it held in."
Jarred Biggs and Fleche Crawford rounded out the podium in third place, with four-time event winner Scott Biggs fourth.
Cowper said the sport had slowly gathered national traction with the help of television coverage, developing a bit of a cult following over the last few years.
"It was great to see Greg Murphy and Stephen McIvor from Sky Speed there. We got 30 minutes on TV on Tuesday night which is great to see.
"If we can have these good days, it just makes it so much stronger for the next time."
He said, with the support of Rangitīkei District Council, the event would continue to grow and prosper for years to come.
"They just could not believe the day. They couldn't believe the crowds and the capabilities of the trucks. They are right behind us now, it is a big event in the Rangitīkei now."