Motatapu Race Director Gemma Boyle is predicting a local to win the 2012 Motatapu Mountain Bike men's race title for the first time in the event's history.
"Winning the Motatapu has proved an elusive title with only three men's winners in the seven years the event has been run, and four winners in the women's field," she said.
Local Queenstown legend Mark Williams (Willy) has finished inside the top 10 every year for the last five years.
"Mark has been training hard for the Cape Epic race in South Africa and recent races show he is peaking nicely for Motatapu coming up on March 10th. With his experience on the course, we are picking him for a win, especially with the Oceania Mountain Bike Championships clashing with the Motatapu this year."
Williams says while he'd like to race the Oceania Championships, he loves Motatapu and considers the race as the same level of competition as the Oceania race.
"With some of the boys being away at the Oceania, it leaves a few podium spots," he said. "I should have a good shot at one of those podium positions."
Mark sees Brent Miller from Christchurch as his main competition and reports that Miller has openly stated he wants a shot at the record. Miller was just over a minute faster than Williams at the 2011 event.
"With the track hard and fast this year with the dry weather we've been having, we should have a crack at the record time," said Williams. "While it will be hard to beat Anton (Cooper)'s time (1:48:43), with a hard track and favourable winds we should be in with a shot," he said.
Williams will also be riding his weapon of choice, a 29-inch mountain bike, which he expects to be faster over the Motatapu course.
As an added incentive, organizers are offering a special prize for anyone who breaks the course record this year.
"The women's race looks wide open as well," said Boyle, with her pick being Kate Fluker from Dunedin. There are also a few women who could challenge Fluker with former Coast to Coast Champion, Emily Miazga, lining up for her second Motatapu.