They say championships are determined by how well a competitor performs on his or her bad days and that might certainly turn out to be true for Queenstown's Scotty Columb and for Rotorua's Cameron Vaughan.
Columb, the JCR Yamaha Racing Team's MX2 class rider, withstood the pain of a recent injury to finish an unaccustomed sixth overall at the third round of four in this season's New Zealand Motocross Championships at Pukekohe a fortnight ago - in a category where there is really little to separate the top eight or 10 riders - but the result was enough for him to retain his overall championship lead.
Although Columb's points advantage has been shaved slightly, he still heads Australian visitor Brock Winston by a healthy 14 points with just one round remaining - in Taupo in just over a week.
"It was a bad day for me at Pukekohe," Columb said. "But I only lost two points to Brock and I have some time now to get fully healed from my hand injury before Taupo.
"I felt pretty comfortable on the bike and I'm looking forward to Taupo. I've had wins there before, so it's all looking good."
Meanwhile, Rotorua's Cameron Vaughan (JCR Yamaha Racing YZ125) narrowly led the 125cc class as riders arrived at Pukekohe and, although he left the race track at the end of the day with his lead intact, it was not without a few scares along the way.
Vaughan's closest rival for the national 125cc title - Te Puke's Logan Blackburn (Bayride BikesportNZ.com Yamaha YZ125) - was the day's big mover, winning both the day's early 125cc races.
This meant Blackburn had suddenly shot to the top of the championship standings for the first time this season and it sent a few ripples of concern through the JCR Yamaha Racing enclosure.
But Vaughan dug deep, striking back in race three, winning it in style, while it was Blackburn's turn to suffer a set-back as he struggled to fight through traffic and he eventually settled for fifth.
This switch in fortunes promptly handed the championship lead straight back to Vaughan but it is still a very tight battle with just four points separating the pair.
- © Fairfax NZ News