The superbike road-show rolls into South Canterbury this weekend and brings with it all the hype and hoopla that comes with high-adrenaline motorcycle racing.
It is the second of five rounds for this season’s New Zealand Superbike Championships at Levels International Raceway, just outside Timaru, this Saturday and Sunday and the event is expected to be another barnstormer after an exciting opening round in Christchurch last weekend.
The economic impact for Timaru is likely to be massive,” said Motorcycle New Zealand general manager Virginia Henderson. “With so many visitors looking to attend the event after the incredible racing seen at round one of the series at Christchurch’s Ruapuna circuit last weekend, Timaru’s motel rooms and camping grounds will surely be crammed to overflowing this weekend. It is good for Motorcycling New Zealand to be supporting this region with this premier championship event and it follows on from the success of the event that was held here last year. We also wish to acknowledge the support in the region from Trust Aoraki and the Timaru District Council.”
Racing was cut short last weekend after a large oil spill on the track at Ruapuna made it too dangerous to continue, but that just means there’s more in store for the race fans at Levels this weekend. The Grand Prix title races, traditionally the third race of the weekend for each class at the Christchurch event, were not able to be run at Ruapuna and so Levels will have that honour on Sunday.
The man to watch in the premier superbikes class will likely be Whakatane’s Damon Rees, the 23-year-old winning both of the 1000cc superbike races held at Ruapuna, while the Supersport 600 class may be able to pick up where it left off at Ruapuna, with fastest qualifier Avalon Biddle, from Rangiora, and Manukau’s Toby Summers battling at the front.
The Supersport 300 class saw Timaru’s Harry Parker emerge as fastest qualifier last weekend and he’ll be hoping to push on from that on his home track this weekend, although Palmerston North’s Jacob Stroud, Christchurch’s Jack Condon, New Plymouth’s Timothy Gray and Dunedin’s Kevin Goddard have already revealed themselves as the likely title contenders in this class. The 18-year-old Parker crashed while leading at Ruapuna and so is now forced to play catch-up in the points.
“I led for a good half of the race, but then went wide after the hairpin and the front wheel washed out,” Parker explained. “Levels is my favourite track and I’d race there every week if I could, so I hope to go well this weekend and just chip away at the points.”
Other class leaders after last weekend’s series opener are Papamoa’s Leon Jacobs (250 Production class); Christchurch’s Chris Huddlestone (Superlites); Christchurch’s Andrew McLaughlin (650 Pro Twins); Australia’s Yanni Shaw (125 GP); Hamilton’s Jesse Stroud (GIXXER Cup) and Christchurch’s Dennis Charlett and Will Clim (sidecars).
The 2019 New Zealand Superbike Championships are supported by DHL Express New Zealand Ltd (DHL), Suzuki New Zealand, Yamaha Motor New Zealand, Carl Cox Motorsport, ICG Print, Honda New Zealand, Pirelli, Resene Automotive and Light Industrial, CTAS, MX Timing, BikeRider magazine, Trust Aoraki and Timaru District Council. Suzuki also supports the GIXXER Cup.
2019 NZ Superbike Championships calendar:
Round 1 – January 5-6, Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Christchurch
Round 2 – January 12-13, Levels International Raceway, Timaru
Round 3 – March 2-3, Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, North Waikato, Mike Pero MotoFest
Round 4 – March 30-31, Circuit Chris Amon, Manfeild
Round 5 – April 5-7, Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo
Credit: Words and Photo by Andy McGechan