Whanganui off-road rider and 2019 national enduro champion Seth Reardon is in the running for a repeat after two rounds of a compressed 2020 championship.
The defending champion spent time racing in the United States last year and was set for a return in May to compete in the Grand National Cross-country Championships in the States until the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic put a stop to that.
He was intending to return home in time to defend his enduro title and he has taken this chance to attempt back-to-back titles with both hands at rounds one and two at the weekend.
Reardon rose to the challenge at the tough double-header opening rounds' nearly 300km ordeal, finishing on the podium both days.
Racing in Masterton on Saturday and Martinborough on Sunday, the Whanganui rider was third on the first day behind former champion Dylan Yearbury and Hamish MacDonald and then claimed a remarkable win among a star-studded line-up the next day.
Ironically, Yearbury only returned from racing in the United States in time to observe lockdown.
"I was so stoked to win the second day outright and make it to the finish without any time penalties. My Yamaha YZ250FX was on form all weekend with no mechanical problems at all," Reardon said.
Reardon had a battle on his hands with MacDonald and Yearbury both in his stacked class. He demonstrated his skill-set taking the race to them.
"The track all up was 120km long which took four hours to complete. There was some pretty tough racing through tight forestry, long rocky creeks and some fast, slippery farmland," Rerdon said.
"I rode a solid race all day, tried my best to put in some fast times and managed to get third overall and first in class. I'm really happy with my result and want to say well done to Dylan and Hamish for P1 and P2," Reardon says.
Yearbury, a 25-year-old builder from Cambridge is only just leading the way on his Husqvarna after the opening two rounds with a win and a second, while fellow globe-trotting Kiwi competitor, Christchurch's Macdonald, holds onto third overall – he finished runner-up on Saturday and third overall on Sunday – and so early indications are that it will likely be a three-way battle for the crown when it all wraps up at Santoft next month.
A revised schedule had been formulated to ensure the championships could still be squeezed into the shortened calendar, the compact series this year comprising just four rounds over two separate weekends, with second half of the series, rounds three and four, coming up in the Santoft Forest, near Bulls, on the weekend of July 11-12.