Two icons of Kiwi motorcycling greatness reunite for the inaugural Mike Pero MotoFest at Hampton Downs this weekend.
Record nine-time New Zealand superbike champion Andrew Stroud and the distinctive Britten V1000 motorcycle will be out on track at MotoFest on Saturday and Sunday (March 3 and 4), a spectacle that will be sure to get the hearts racing.
Waikato man Stroud is perhaps synonymous with the fabled Britten motorcycle, a radical bike that was created in a small private workshop by insightful Christchurch inventor John Britten in the late 1980s, then developed and sculptured before being released upon the international race scene with instant success.
The unique, ground-breaking machine turned heads whenever and wherever it was on a race track and it still does. The bike even looks fast sitting idle in the pits.
Put that together with one of New Zealand’s greatest motorcycle racers and you have a spectacle that can’t be beaten.
“It is always a thrill to get out on the Britten,” Stroud said.
“It brings back a lot of good memories and I think the race fans always appreciate seeing it in action. What John (Britten) created really was an amazing achievement and I think that is appreciated even more now as the years go by.
“I’ll be happy to do a few wheelies on the Britten. It’s a really easy bike to ride. It’s light and it flicks from side to side really easily. Tyres were always an issue with the bike back in the 1990s and I believe the new tyre technology that we have today also means it’s possible the bike could go faster now than it ever did before.”
The now 50-year-old Stroud retired from fulltime racing in August 2013, but he still has his hands full with several of his 10 children keen to follow in his wheel tracks and it’s true also that Jacob and Jesse Stroud will be in action at Hampton Downs this weekend, racing at MotoFest in several of the New Zealand Superbike Championships races.
Andrew Stroud started racing in 1986 and won his first New Zealand championship in 1988, winning the 250 Production class that year. He then raced at Bathurst where he finished runner-up, behind Australian Mick Doohan, in the 1988 Arai 500km Superbike race.
In 1988, Stroud raced in the US Endurance series and partnered fellow Kiwi Graeme Crosby in the famous Suzuka 8 Hours race in Japan. For the next 10 years he competed internationally against the world’s best, riding for various Superbike and Grand Prix teams.
Stroud first rode the New Zealand-built Britten V1000 at Daytona in 1992.
During the epic battle with the leading factory Ducati Superbike Stroud came within 0.1 sec of the outright lap record before an electrical problem stopped the bike with a couple of laps remaining. However, he won both races at Daytona in 1994 on the Britten bike while setting the fastest top speed recorded by any motorcycle at Daytona (305 km/h).
One of the few people to have had the privilege of racing one of John Britten’s world-renowned superbikes, Stroud won the Battle-of-the-Twins at Daytona on Britten superbikes in 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997.
In 1995, Stroud won the inaugural World B.E.A.R.S Series (British European American Racing Series, now part of AHMRA) on a Britten bike, three weeks before his friend, John Britten, died.
Also in 1995 and on a Britten, Stroud won the European Pro-Twins at Assen. Soon after he put a Kawasaki Superbike on pole position for the World Endurance Championship round at the same track. In 1997 he won the American AMA formula Xtreme Championship.
In his glittering career, Stroud has competed in 41 World Superbike races, 20 FIM 500 GP races, 4 Suzuka 8 Hours races, one Isle of Man race and three 24-hours World Endurance Championship races.
Stroud won nine New Zealand superbike national championships. His first championship was in 1991. He repeated this in 1995 and 1999 (riding a Britten V1000) and, riding a Suzuki GSX-R1000, in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2011. In 2011, Stroud became national champion for the last time.
Since marrying Karyn in 1997, they have had 10 children together – Jacob, Caleb, Maddy, Jesse, Isabella, Mac, Joseph, Lucia, Amea and Elsie.
For information on tickets for the MotoFest weekend, hospitality packages, the legends dinner and camp sites, go to http://www.hamptondowns.com
Words and photo by Andy McGechan