Expect to see a few fresh names gracing the pages of your favourite motorcycling web site, newspaper sports pages or motorbike magazines when the 2018-19 road-race season rolls around later this year.
The sport is growing and it’s perhaps all thanks to the insight and imagination of staff at Suzuki New Zealand and an enthusiastic following from young riders who can now picture a viable road-racing future for themselves.
The GIXXER Cup competition was hatched late last year and quickly matured and developed into one of the most exciting and most closely-followed of racing classes to run during the 2017-18 season.
And now it’s set to grow even more with Suzuki New Zealand announcing a new, expanded contest, with eight rounds of racing, again to be incorporated within the popular three-round 2018 Suzuki Series and the five-round 2019 New Zealand Superbike Championships that are set to follow shortly after.
In addition, the riders’ contingency fund has now been boosted to a whopping $10,000, offering additional incentive for aspiring young racers, individuals who perhaps may not previously have considered tackling the sport.
Despite their lack of experience, each of these young men rose to the challenge and their winning potential quickly emerged during the inaugural seven-round GIXXER Cup competition this year.
It was a motivating breath of fresh air for many.
All riders in the GIXXER Cup class race on identical Suzuki GSX150F bikes, entry is restricted to riders aged between 14 and 21 years and, with no modifications allowed to the bikes, the racing is guaranteed to be close and exciting.
And it certainly was that this season, a virtual hornets’ nest of race action, and, with second-hand Suzuki GSX150F bikes now available for as little as $3995, the number of riders on the start line is likely to increase.
This fledgling competition, which ran from December last year through until March this year, provided massive inspiration for many young Kiwis to push ahead and more seriously consider a long-term racing career.
It is highly likely that some of this season’s GIXXER Cup “stars”, riders such as Pukekohe’s Thomas Newton, Paeroa’s Blake Ross, Greymouth’s Clark Fountain, Whanganui’s Tarbon Walker, Taupiri’s Zak Fuller, Timaru’s Harry Parker, Invercargill’s Michael Wilson or Hamilton’s Jesse Stroud – son of Suzuki’s nine-time former national superbike champion Andrew Stroud, to name just a few – will be out on New Zealand’s race tracks again this summer.
They will either be enhancing their reputations in the GIXXER Cup class or making their first forays into some of the bigger bike categories.
Wellington’s 2018 national superbike champion Sloan Frost and fellow 1000cc Suzuki superbike riders such as Glen Eden’s Daniel Mettam and Taupo’s Scott Moir will need to keep a careful watch over their shoulders because it probably won’t be long before the likes of Newton and Ross are ready to overtake them.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan