The inaugural Mike Pero MotoFest at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park at the weekend matched up to, and possibly even exceeded, all of the expectations.

The two-day festival of motorcycling promised a huge variety of high-octane excitement and that’s exactly what it provided for the bumper crowd of bike fans who rolled through the gates of the popular North Waikato motorsports venue.

The jam-packed programme of activities featured on-track and off-track action that was spellbinding and the third round of the New Zealand Superbike Championships was an integral part of that, with three races run for each of the nine championship classes, the national title hunters sharing the race track also with classic motorcycle racing and the Carl Cox Motorsport Hyosung Cup races. Also squeezed into the programme were several Pirelli Track Sessions, for amateur riders, and the Kawasaki Public Trail Ride.  

Nine-time former national superbike champion Andrew Stroud, closest to camera, can be seen rubbing shoulders with fellow Kiwi legend Graeme Crosby and American MotoGP icon Randy Mamola during this autograph-signing session at the weekend’s inaugural Mike Pero MotoFest. Photo by Andy McGechan,

Coupled with trade displays, the 2018 MotoFest offered massive entertainment options from early morning until late afternoon on both days, with the Star Insurance Bike Show, then the Alpinestars Legends Dinner on Saturday night and a Topbus double-decker party bus ride around the circuit for some lucky fans on Sunday afternoon the icing on the cake.

The action at Hampton Downs was edge-of-the-seat stuff, an enthralling Motul Stadium Trials Challenge one of those extra events to feature at MotoFest over the busy weekend, along with freestyle motocross performances by Kiwi internationals Levi Sherwood, Caleb Delacey and Nick Franklin.

Meet-and-greet and autograph sessions were also offered, with international motorcycling legends such as American MotoGP star Randy Mamola, sports commentator and former British champion Steve Parrish, Australian heroes Kevin Magee and Robbie Phillis rubbing shoulders with Kiwi icons Andrew Stroud (in action at the weekend on the world-famous, Kiwi-built Britten motorcycle), Hugh Anderson, Stu Avant, Gary Goodfellow, Aaron Slight and New Plymouth’s former motocross world champion Shayne King, to name just a few.

Hampton Downs was certainly the place to be at the weekend, a “Mecca of motorcycling” with something for everyone, and Hampton Downs Motorsport Park commercial manager Mike Marsden said planning was already underway, “possibly with a few tweaks”, to do it all over again next year too.

The crowds at Hampton Downs at the weekend were mesmerised by the intense superbike race action. Photo by Andy McGechan,

The sport’s governing body, Motorcycling New Zealand (MNZ), was also impressed by this first MotoFest spectacle.

“It was great to work in with Hampton Downs Motorsport Park and be a part of this special inaugural event,” said MNZ president Glen Williams.

“MotoFest has been a breath of fresh air and certainly added hugely to our own national championship series. The spectacle of seeing all the many and varied facets of motorcycling in the one place was a fantastic celebration of motorcycling.”

 Meanwhile, class leaders after the weekend’s third round of four in the 2018 New Zealand Superbike Championships, presented by DHL Express NZ Ltd, are: Wellington’s Sloan Frost (Superbikes); Christchurch’s Jake Lewis (600 Supersport); Tauranga’s Regan Phibbs (Supersport 300); Hamilton’s Jordan Burley (650 Pro Twins); Christchurch’s Nick Cain (250cc Production); Huia’s Nathanael Diprose (Superlites); Rodney’s Blayes Heaven (125GP); Pukekohe’s Thomas Newton (GIXXER Cup); and Auckland’s Peter Goodwin and Kendal Dunlop (Sidecars).

The fourth and final round of the superbike nationals at set to be run at Taupo in two weeks’ time, on March 17-18.

Words and photos by Andy McGechan