The revving engines will reach fever pitch at The Hack Track near Eltham this coming Labour Weekend as the nation's elite All Terrain Vehicle bike racers head into battle.
The 2019 New Zealand ATV Championships – sponsored this year by Reid Recovery – will test riders over two days on the steep, fast, flowing and undulating grassland circuit just south of Eltham this Saturday and Sunday, the spectacular track within easy view of State Highway 3.
And it could again be a big weekend for Taranaki fans of the sport, with two local riders – brothers from nearby Stratford in fact – having dominated the sport over recent seasons and expected to do so again this weekend.
Sibling rivals Camo and Scott Keegan have, between them, shared the premier title over each of the past four years and they will obviously be favoured to wage a terrific battle for top honours again this weekend, especially on home turf.
Camo Keegan actually has four national title wins to his credit in the premier grade – having won the title for the first time in 2013 and then scoring three in a row, winning in 2016, 2017 and 2018 – so he knows he'll have a target on his back this weekend.
In addition to his brother, other challengers in the premier grade will likely be Otorohanga's Shane Robinson, while Christchurch's Taylor Graham, Egmont Village rider Cory Whitelock, Gisborne's Ian Newman, Eltham's Shane Hurliman and Stratford's Kim Reid might also fancy their chances.
There is certainly no shortage of talent and Christchurch's George Doig, Christchurch's Greg Graham, Christchurch's Harrison Graham and Blenheim's Lucas Collins will also be worth watching out for.
Among the female racers, expect to see Otorohanga's Amy Corston, Christchurch's Lori Graham and Stratford's Nicola Reid (along with her with daughters Ashlee and Dannielle) to be among the leaders.
The event is being run by the Taranaki Quad Riders' Club, in conjunction with the Taranaki Motorcycle Club and has attracted a wide spread of experience from both ends of the spectrum.
"Riders don't have to be terribly competitive to be involved. We just want them to go out there and give it a go and enjoy themselves," said Taranaki Quad Riders' Club secretary Nicola Reid.
"It's a real family sport. We have riders as young as five-year-old Jaxon Wood, from Rahutu, for instance, and riders in their 50s too, like Hawke's Bay veteran Wade Taylor."
Motorcycling New Zealand ATV commissioner Dennis Cox said he was looking forward to another great weekend of racing.
"We have a good number of riders in the premier grade this year, despite the fact that (former champion) Ian Ffitch is sidelined with a shoulder injury and Craig Cox has committed himself elsewhere this weekend, away racing a modified sprint car."
Organisers plan to run four races for each class on Saturday and then three per class on Sunday.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com