Bay of Plenty’s Rhys Carter is the newly-crowned king of Taranaki.
The 28-year-old 3Twenty3 Kawasaki Racing Team rider was in dazzling form on Sunday, completely dominating the annual King of the Mountain Motocross near New Plymouth.
The rider has convincingly won all three races in the premier MX1 class using his Kawasaki KX450F.
He left no doubt about his superiority when he also led from start to finish winning the all-in feature final, the last race of the two-day event.
Following some distance behind him in the race was current national cross-country champion Brad Groombridge, from Taupo, and former national motocross champion Daryl Hurley, from Hawera.
The win is not a first for Carter who previously won the King of the Mountain trophy in 2015, but his performance now holds more significance, as it is the same venue where he will kick off his national championship campaign in just two weeks’ time.
He says the KoM win is a welcome boost for him ahead of the Honda New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix, set for Woodville next weekend, which will be quickly followed by the four-round nationals.
"I didn’t have any real expectations arriving here," says Carter.
"This is only my second ride back since recovering from an injury I sustained while racing in the United States in June.
“My first comeback ride was at the Whakatane Summercross just after Christmas, and I finished runner-up that day, so I guess it’s all looking good for the rest of the season.
"It was really a last-minute decision to come here because the weather forecast wasn’t great and this event was cut short because of heavy rain last year. But I’m so glad now that I made the trip.
"I finished fourth overall at the Woodville GP last year and third in the MX1 class at the nationals last year, so I feel it’s time for me to start winning.
"With all then coaching that I’m now doing, I think it helps me to focus also on my own riding and it’s certainly improved. I’m thinking about my technique all the time.
"Today was a dummy run for what I can expect in some of the bigger race situations, like Woodville and the nationals, so I was pushing quite hard today.
“I learned a few things about this track today and flowed quite well on it, so I’m feeling quite confident ahead of the nationals."
The four-round nationals begin in Taranaki on February 4, Rotorua on February 25, Hawke’s Bay on March 11 and wrap up in Taupo on March 24.