Despite fickle weather, the weekend’s 39th annual Classic Motorcycle Festival at Pukekohe Park Raceway was a roaring success, but perhaps none more so than for Auckland’s Paul Pavletich.

Rain caused day one on Saturday to be washed out, making it a jam-packed programme on Sunday and the man from Ararimu, near the Bombay Hills, was virtually untouchable in the Formula One class, the 59-year-old Pavletich winning both the eight-lap Jason McEwen F1 Trophy race and the six-lap F1 race that followed.

In the first race Pavletich took his 1000cc 1989 Yamaha OW-01 to cross the finish line ahead of former New Zealand superbike champion Dennis Charlett (McIntosh Suzuki GS11) , of Christchurch, with Rotorua’s Matt Eggleton (Yamaha FZR 1000), Te Awanga’s Eddie Kattenberg (Bimota YB8) and Auckland’s Neil Martin (1982 Kawasaki 1100) rounding out the top five. 

In race two the finish order was the same, with Pavletich, Charlett, Eggleton and Kattenberg filling the first four positions and Paeroa’s Patric Nussbaum (Kawasaki ZX10) the man to round out the top five positions. 

“The first race was particularly close and Dennis and I had a real battle,” said Pavletich. “He passed me for the lead with three laps to go, but I got back past him on the last lap.”

By winning both races, Pavletich was also handed the Hugh Anderson Patrons award.

“My bike’s engine development was done by my elder brother, Mark Pavletich, and, on race day I have mates Craig Griffin and Wayne Anstis helping out to ensure wheel changes and the pits run well,” said Pavletich.

“Racing is a team effort and that is a big part of our success. So my advice to all the younger guys and girls competing is to surround yourself with the right people. People who want to win and care about your safety. This was a big part of the reason we won the NZCMRR series on our first attempt last year.

These guys working behind the scene make such a difference.

“It was a great day for our team, holding off multiple national champion Dennis Charlett. Dennis was brilliant to race against, so smooth and super-fast on the 1135cc McIntosh. And, as I have said before, young Matt Eggleton continues to impress me.

“Next race event for me is (The Battle of the Streets at) Paeroa (in two weeks’ time, on February 18), where we will be looking for a repeat of two wins around the challenging road circuit.

“We won races on our first attempt last year and both were runaway wins. I have always done well on street circuits and attribute part of this to having ridden millions of kilometres as a Pro Rider, RIDE FOR EVER motorcycle riding instructor.”

Last year was Pavletich’s debut on the Paeroa streets, having only attended in previous years as a co-commentator, working alongside announcers Phil Dark and the late Ray Whitham.

Run by the New Zealand Classic Motorcycle Racing Register (NZCMRR), the weekend’s event at Pukekohe attracted huge interest from all around New Zealand and from overseas as well, with displays of World Superbike Championship machines and some of their former riders there to share their experiences on them.

The event also provided a tribute to the legacy of New Zealand great Geoff Perry, an international rising star when he was tragically killed in a plane crash in 1973, aged just 23.

Words by Andy McGechan