The volatile, unpredictable and exciting nature of motorcycle racing was perhaps never more in evidence than at round two of the 2019 New Zealand Superbike Championships, near Timaru, at the weekend.
New championship leaders emerged in several of the bike classes at the two-day event at Timaru’s Levels International Raceway, most significantly in the two premier categories, the Superbike class, and the Supersport 600 class.
Whakatane’s Damon Rees had dominated the 1000cc superbike class at the opening round of five in the series at Ruapuna, on the outskirts of Christchurch, a week ago, but at Timaru it was time for Taupo’s Scott Moir to make his title bid felt.
Rees crashed out of the first of three Superbike races at Timaru on Saturday and, after repairing his bike, he did return to the race track on Sunday, but managed only two fourth-place finishes.
Moir, meanwhile, strung together three wins at Timaru, a far cry from the third and seventh-place results he’d scored a week prior. All of this was enough for Moir to rise up from fifth in the standings to snatch the top spot and the riders now have seven weeks to regroup for the three North Island rounds that will follow, starting with Hampton Downs, near Huntly, on March 2-3.
Christchurch’s Alastair Hoogenboezem remains second in the Superbike class standings, 17 points behind Moir, with Wellington’s defending Superbike champion Sloan Frost improving from eighth in the table after round one to now settle in at third in the rankings. Rees has slipped back from first to fourth in the standings, but he is just three points behind Frost.
In the Supersport 600 class, it was a matter of finally getting the championship underway after proceedings had been abandoned at Ruapuna. A serious crash and then an oil spill on the track ruined any chance of the Supersport 600 class being able to complete any races a week ago, but organisers made up for that with an extra race in the programme for these racers at Timaru.
Manukau’s Toby Summers ended up as the most dominant individual in this class at Timaru, winning three of the four Supersport 600 races. He crashed out of his other race, but still had enough points to top the podium. Second in the standings in this class after round two is Rangiora’s Avalon Biddle, who showed that consistency counts for plenty, her 3-4-2-3 score-card for the weekend placing her second overall, while Tapanui’s Seth Devereux is a close third in the standings. Devereux crashed out of race one but then followed that with 2-1-2 results.
“I’m riding well at the moment and feeling confident,” said 45-year-old father-of-two Summers. “These South Island tracks seem to suit my aggressive style. Hampton Downs coming up is not my favourite track, but I’m still looking forward to the races there.”
Other class leaders after the weekend’s event are Palmerston North’s Jacob Stroud (Supersport 300 class); Papamoa’s Leon Jacobs (250 Production class); Jacob Stroud and Chris Huddleston first equal (in Superlites); Christchurch’s Andrew McLaughlin (650 Pro Twins, provisional only); Australia’s Yanni Shaw (125 GP); Hamilton’s Jesse Stroud (GIXXER Cup, provisional only); Christchurch’s Dennis Charlett and Will Clim (sidecars).
Meanwhile, Timaru’s Harry Parker won the Allan Ramage Memorial trophy, topping the points ahead of Jacob Stroud and New Plymouth’s Hayden Lockhart in the separate series of three quick-fire races that wound up the weekend.
Entries for the Allan Ramage Memorial races were by invitation only, comprising the fastest 12 qualifiers from the 300cc and 250cc groups. After round three at Hampton Downs in March, the Nationals continue on in the Manawatu on March 30-31, before wrapping up at Taupo on April 5-7.
Motorcycling New Zealand road-race co-commissioner Grant Ramage said “it was a good-sized crowd, especially considering the wet weather we had on Saturday, and they would have been well entertained by the close racing”.
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 by Andy McGechan