Avalon Biddle always knew there would be a target on her back when she lined up at the start of the 2020 road-racing season with the No.1 emblazoned on her 600cc Kawasaki race bike.
It’s tough when you’re the national champion – everyone has you in their gunsights, wants to shoot you down and take that title away – and it certainly hasn’t been easy for her so far this season.
A massive crash at the opening round of the New Zealand Superbike Championships has threatened to derail her title defence and perhaps a repeat of her glorious title-winning campaign of 2019 might now be little more than wishful thinking.
But, always with a positive attitude, the Rangiora-based former Orewa woman says she is looking forward to racing at round three – the Mike Pero MotoFest event at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park on March 7-8 – where she figures she can get back to her winning ways and vastly improve her position.
Biddle created history when she won the New Zealand Supersport 600 title last summer, the first female to do so in this male-dominated sport.
And the icing on the cake for Biddle last year was when, as part of that campaign, she also won the coveted TT Trophy race at Hampton Downs.
“That was a highlight for me and MotoFest at Hampton Downs is always the biggest event of the season for me. It’s my favourite race track.”
Biddle and all the other competitors in this year’s New Zealand Superbike Championships (NZSBK) have had a seven-week break since the first two of five rounds of the series were held in the South Island and so they’ll have itchy trigger fingers when they arrive at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park for round three on March 7-8.
The Yamaha-sponsored 2020 NZSBK series again forms an integral part of the popular annual Mike Pero MotoFest event, making it the single biggest motorcycling event on the Kiwi motorcycling calendar.
The two-day affair will be an all-encompassing motorcycling extravaganza, a feast of motorcycling that will include all manner of bike-related entertainment, including display and trade stalls, the Star Insurance-sponsored Legends Garage and, for the first time this year, the Motul NZ Classic Grand Prix.
But, all those welcome distractions aside, Biddle’s focus at Hampton Downs will be solely on getting her campaign back on track.
“Everyone knows how terrible my season has been going and, after the break, I’m looking forward to winning races again,” said Biddle.
“My focus is on winning races and that’s still possible. This is why we go racing afterall. The championship is not going to plan but the injury has been a real problem. It’s like I had whiplash and a bit of concussion and tore my tricep muscle too. It’s really hard to ride. It’s one sport where you really need to use your triceps.”
The accident happened during the first lap of qualifying at round one in Christchurch in early January.
“The bike was absolutely trashed. It broke in two, literally in two pieces. I ended up going back out on the track on my spare bike, but didn’t qualify very well.”
She ended up finishing an unaccustomed tenth overall for the weekend at Christchurch.
Injured and in pain, Biddle tried her best to race at round two in Timaru a week later.
“Every lap I did at Timaru it felt like I was tearing the arm muscle even more. It was so swollen, so massive. I crashed at the first turn at race one at Timaru too, so not a good outcome.”
She scored zero points at Timaru that weekend.
“I really enjoy racing at Hampton Downs and it obviously draws a big crowd, so I’m looking forward to racing there and determined to get back into the points. My mechanic has been working hard and the No.1 bike is only really been put back together now, but we are all good to go now.”
After the MotoFest weekend at Hampton Downs, the NZSBK series will continue on at Manfeild, on the outskirts of Feilding, on March 28-29, before wrapping up at Taupo on April 4-5.
2020 NZ Superbike Championships calendar:
Round 1 – January 11-12, Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Christchurch;
Round 2 – January 18-19, Levels International Raceway, Timaru;
Round 3 – March 7-8, Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, North Waikato, Mike Pero MotoFest;
Round 4 – March 28-29, Circuit Chris Amon, Manfeild, Feilding;
Round 5 – April 4-5, Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo.
Photo and Words by Andy McGechan