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Tauranga BMX star Kurt Pickard took the first small steps towards his Olympic dream with victory in the Pacific Elite Series near Pukekohe today.
It marked the first competition on the Supercross track built at the Sunset Coast BMX club facility at Puni. The track is among a handful of permanent Supercross set-ups in the world, complete with the 8m high start ramp, which will become a key training facility for the BikeNZ team and developing riders.
Strong winds on Saturday prevented use of the 8m ramp with Cambridge international; Kurt James claiming the final ahead of Christchurch junior Daniel Franks and Australian Josh Callan.
Pickard, a quarterfinalist in the world championships last year, only raced in today’s second round with the daunting new ramp used for the first time.
He won all three qualifying motos and was in a class of his own in the final, clearing out to win ahead of Callan and Gisborne’s Nick Fox.
“It was a good chance to get in some laps while I am home before we head away for the big year ahead,” Pickard said.
“We head away in early March for the first world cup and finish with the world champs in Birmingham in May.
“London is a huge goal for me. I have a lot of hard work to do but if I can put some good results in at the world cups, then hopefully I will be there.
“Last year I learned a lot. I know I can put it together. It is a big mental game at the top and that is where the focus is for me.”
The new Supercross facility will also form a key part of preparations.
“Until now we have always had to practice on big ramps and big jumps during short practice sessions at competition. Having it here at home and having access to it is going to be absolutely huge.”
Australian Bodi Turner prevailed in the final of the junior men on Saturday ahead of Trent Jones (Kaiapoi) and Matthew Tew (Rotorua).
Jones reversed that result today, handling the big ramp superbly by taking on the first major jump with precision to hold off Turner with Tew again third.
There were insufficient entries for elite women’s competition, with more than 200 riders competing in challenge age group racing.
Results, Elite Men, Saturday Final: Kurt James (Cambridge) 1, Daniel Franks (North Avon) 2, Josh Callan (Australia) 3.
Sunday final: Kurt Pickard (Tauranga) 1, Callan 2, Nick Fox (Gisborne) 3.
Junior men, Saturday final: Bodi Turner (Australia) 1, Trent Jones (Kaiapoi) 2, Matthew Tew (Rotorua) 3.
Sunday final: Jones 1, Turner 2, Tew 3.