Dale Finch wouldn't mind finding out what the view from the top of the podium looks like at a New Zealand solo speedway championships.
The Christchurch electrician has managed two second placings (2007 at Ruapuna, 2013 at Rosebank Speedway) and a third (2012 at Moore Park) but, like most of this country's best speedway riders, he's found it difficult to break the lock held by professional Jason Bunyan, who has won eight of the past 10 events.
He'll get another chance at Invercargill's Oreti Park Speedway tomorrow night.
"I'm still waiting for that first place, it's hard because we are all tradesmen who do our jobs and then we've got a professional rider who comes over with all that experience, comes off 100 meetings, and is just at that next step," Finch said.
"I've got some good gear backing me this season, and some good people, so it's just all on the day.
'It's been one of my dreams to win the New Zealand title, but [Bunyan's] just always had that experience on the rest of us. About five years ago he used to just clean up, but slowly everyone is starting to get the same equipment and get onto the same pace."
Finch's last trip to Oreti Park, for the interprovincial teams event, returned mixed fortunes.
He showed plenty of pace, but his night came to an abrupt end when he tangled with local rider Grant Tregoning.
In the resulting crash, he badly broke a bone in his hand which has only recently come out of plaster.
"I got the cast taken off a couple of weeks ago and I've been going to hand specialists, we've been working really hard on it. I've tried to get the strength back into it. I had a ride on Tuesday and it seemed to be alright, but there was still a lot of pain in the hand."
The injury has had a silver lining - with Finch unable to work, he's had plenty of time to fine tune his bike and work on his fitness.
Finch estimates there will be a handful of riders fast enough to challenge Bunyan's dominance tomorrow night, including Tregoning, Sean Mason and New Zealand under-21 champion Bradley Wilson-Dean.
Racing gets under way from 4pm.
- The Southland Times