Sunday could bring a career-defining moment for Sloan Frost.
The Wellington man is on the verge of winning his first national superbike title and heads to the fourth and final round at Hampton Downs this weekend with mixed feelings.
While he always enjoys racing, the pressure is on him like never before.
If the refrigeration engineer keeps his cool and avoids any trouble, he should be crowned champion on Sunday afternoon. However, a flat tyre, a jammed lever, an engine failure, a split fuel line or, worst of all, a crash, and it could end in disappointment.
The 34-year-old father-of-three enjoys a 43-point advantage over his nearest rival, John Ross.
That means he almost has two races up his sleeve with only four to go.
He’s kept his powder dry since dominating two of the first three rounds, opting not to tackle the annual Battle of the Streets race meeting at Paeroa a week ago, to ensure he avoided anything that would ruin the nationals for him.
“It makes it a little bit tougher for me with there being four races this weekend. I can’t afford to relax,” said Frost.
“I just need to concentrate on what I do. I’ve had good success at Hampton Downs in the past, so I do feel comfortable there.
“If I can get a bonus point for qualifying fastest and then win the first race on Saturday, I can relax a little bit on Sunday.
“I’m just going to go out there and forget about the championship. I will just do what I know I can do well and concentrate on riding my own race.”
Coming from a motocross background, Frost first raced superbikes in 2009.
This season has been particularly memorable, with him winning the superbike class at the pre-season Suzuki Series that wrapped up at Whanganui’s famous Cemetery Circuit on Boxing Day. He also won the GP title at round one of the nationals at Christchurch’s Ruapuna circuit in January.
Meanwhile, a battle-within-a-battle for 1000cc superstock honours has been raging between Toby Summers and Dillon Telford, with Summers a relatively safe 24 points ahead of Telford at the start of this weekend. The superstock class is raced at the same time as the superbike class but the riders are scored separately.
Titles are still in the balance in every other class.
The racing has also been particularly fierce in the supersport 600cc class where Daniel Mettam has been threatening, although Cameron Hudson has been quick enough to keep himself top of the standings.
Hudson’s advantage is 37.5 points over Mettam, with Shane Richardson another 34.5 points further back.
Richardson dominated the 600cc class at the Battle of the Streets in Paeroa.
He heads to Hampton Downs in confident mood, although his nationals campaign has been blighted by mechanical problems. He’s in danger of slipping off the podium — Aaron Hassan is just 1.5 points behind.
The class leaders after three of four rounds are Frost (superbike class, Suzuki); Cameron Hudson (supersport 600, Yamaha); Summers (superstock 1000, Kawasaki); Dennis Charlett (pro twins, Suzuki); Rogan Chandler (125GP, Honda); Shaun Harris (superlites, Suzuki); Charlett (lightweights, KTM); Lewis Dray (250cc production, Kawasaki); Colin Buckley and Robbie Shorter (sidecars, Kawasaki).