A "boot camp" lies ahead for leading Kiwi motocross racers Kayne Lamont and Maximus Purvis as the 2018 motocross nationals draw near.
Luck did not favour the two Altherm JCR Yamaha Racing Team stars at the weekend's annual Auckland Motocross Championships at Tuakau, but there's no reason for team manager Josh Coppins to be pushing any panic buttons just yet.
Although they always aim to win races, the Auckland event was regarded as little more than a training exercise and bike testing session for his riders as they prepare for the start of the four-round 2018 New Zealand Motocross Championships in Taranaki in February.
For Mangakino 17-year-old Purvis, the Auckland event signalled his return to racing after sustaining an injury at Labour Weekend and Coppins said he was "quite happy" with Purvis finishing on the podium, third overall, in the senior 125cc class at Auckland.
"His speed was good, but his fitness possibly lacking a bit at the moment," says Coppins.
"I have asked him now to race a few local club events over the coming weeks, just to give himself some more time on the bike."
Mangakino's Lamont finished runner-up to national MX1 champion Cody Cooper in the first of the weekend's MX1 class races, but he crashed out of the next one when he stalled his bike "while braking too hard, causing him to lose the rear end of the bike".
Lamont's injuries are considered minor and he is expected to be back in action "sooner, rather than later".
"I will check the progress of both riders with a fitness test for them on December 16-17, where we will also break in their new race bikes. The settings on Kayne's bikes are finalised, but we are still working with Maximus.
"We will run a boot camp for the boys at Motueka on January 15 as we build up for the New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville (in the last weekend of January). It'll be our last big push before Woodville and the nationals.
"As a team, we are not quite where we want to be just yet," says Coppins.
"We are a little bit behind with set-up. We have wanted to make changes on the bikes, but they are so new that we simply haven't had the parts.
"Maximus rode a Yamaha YZ250F at Labour Weekend and the weekend's Auckland champs was his first ride on a 125cc bike since (he won the national junior 15-16 years' 125cc title in) April.
"We are still working on options to appoint a rider to contest the MX2 (250cc) class at the nationals ... it could yet be Max who we give that job to. If he's fit enough, he may race the 125cc class and the MX2 class at the nationals."
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com