Queenstown-based mountain bike racer Jimmy Pollard has his eyes on the prize at the annual Coronet Peak enduro.
“I had a reasonably good run last year finishing fourth – just off the back of the podium,” he says.
“It was close enough to taste the blood, so hopefully I’ll go better this year.”
Pollard, 27, will race in the Enduro World Series, which comes to Rotorua in March.
He earned a wildcard entry through a series of victories and high-place finishes in the Enduro Crown Series last year, the official points system for New Zealand enduro racing.
“I spent a couple of seasons overseas, racing enduros in Canada, and picked up the buzz.
“So I came home and started chasing them here.
“The EWS is definitely the highlight of my season – looking forward to racing up there and getting a good enough position to hopefully make it viable to head overseas and do a couple of rounds in North America.”
Enduro racing is a lung-busting combination of downhill and cross country.
“It’s the best of both worlds, so you get people coming from both sports,” he says.
More than 100 riders are expected to take on Saturday’s Coronet Peak enduro, with Pollard one of the favourites as he prepares for the EWS.
“It’s all lead-up for sure,” he says.
“There’s lots of pressure you put on yourself and your bike when you’re racing, so it’s good to get races under your belt, get your systems dialled, know what to expect.”
Originally from Alexandra, Pollard worked as a professional trail builder in Canada and has had a hand in many Queenstown trails.
He also works at Queenstown’s Torpedo7 store, formerly R&R Sport, and the firm sponsors both the event and Pollard himself, along with bike manufacturer Cannondale, component firm Sram, helmet firm Bell and tyre manufacturer Continental.
“I’ve got a lot of support this season which is a huge help and gives you a bit more motivation to get up and do those tough mornings.”