MotoFest is just around the corner and, as final preparations are made, the revs are already starting to build ahead of what will no doubt be another classic weekend at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park.

Ready to mark its fourth anniversary at the popular north Waikato race track on the weekend of March 6-7, the Mike Pero MotoFest is sure to again rate as New Zealand’s “must see and must do” motorcycling event of the year, particularly with the inclusion in the programme of the second annual Motul NZ Classic Grand Prix and the Shoei Helmets-sponsored Classic Two Stroke races.

The New Zealand Superbike Championships (NZSBK) will headline the event with the second instalment of the Classic NZ Grand Prix and the Shoei Helmets-sponsored Classic Two Stroke races also taking centre stage. 

It’s really time to “Smoke ’em Out” this year as MotoFest embarks on “A Celebration of Two-Strokes in New Zealand”.

This year’s MotoFest “Legends” feature puts the spotlight on two-stroke motorcycles, and the legends who rode them, so come on and “smoke them if you’ve got them”.

MotoFest will particularly acknowledge three racers who made their name on big, raw two-strokes – Kawasaki and Bultaco hero Ginger Molloy, multi-time New Zealand champion Trevor Discombe and long-time racer, sponsor and mentor Bob Haldane.

And let’s not forget some of our other heroes, four-time World Champion Hugh Anderson, the extraordinary Graeme Crosby and three stars of the sport who are sadly no longer with us, Geoff Perry, Kim Newcombe and Rodger Freeth.

Dunedin’s Kevin Goddard (Yamaha TZ250 No.148), seen here leading the way at Hampton Downs last year, sure to be among the frontrunners in the Shoei Classic Two-stroke races.

And then there are the machines. We have assembled the biggest line-up of the famous four-cylinder Yamaha TZ750 since the 1970s.

Add to that, some rare Suzuki RG500s, and a sea of Yamaha TZ250 and 350s. Plus there are some other smokin’ specials from our past.

In addition, if you ride your two-stroke to the event or bring it by van or trailer, there’s a special “Show and Shine” area set aside for you in the infield at Hampton Downs.

You’ll also get to take to the track for special parade laps with the legends and you’ll get free entry to the Saturday night BBQ.

Bring your display bike, your project bike in any state to enter and display. There will be prizes for: Best presented multi cylinder two stroke Street and Racing; Best presented Twin; Best presented Single; Best presented Team; Rare Bike Category; Best Barn Find; Most Optimistic Project (let’s see that rusting hulk).

The Motul NZ Classic Grand Prix will put extra zing onto the jam-packed programme and, as many would probably expect, this feature is drawing in legends of yesteryear … iconic, famous and well-loved bikes and some of the equally celebrated riders of the age too.

As for the modern bike battles, the form book was thrown out the window as the first half of the 2021 NZSBK wrapped up in the South Island just two weeks ago.

The four-round NZSBK series kicked off at Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Ruapuna, on the outskirts of Christchurch, on the weekend of January 9-10, with round two followed just a week later, at Levels International Raceway, near Timaru, and that set the cauldron bubbling ahead of an expected MotoFest boil-over.

Although Whakatane’s Damon Rees have been a last-minute entry in the NZSBK – after delaying his planned trip to race in the United Kingdom – and riding an (older-model) bike, borrowed from his elder brother Mitch Rees, it didn’t slow him down at all and he completed the two-round South Island phase of the NZSBK in winning style.

The Rees siblings packed up their equipment at the conclusion of racing at Levels with the two Honda team-mates positioned 1-2 at the top of the Superbike class rankings at what was also the halfway stage of the 2021 championship.

“We’ll have some new bikes for the racing at Hampton Downs and Taupo and we’ll do a lot of testing before those events,” said Damon Rees.

“It’s just so good to be racing here at home when there’s nothing sporting happening on the other side of the world (because of the COVID-19 pandemic) and this is the best preparation for me for when I do head across to do the British championships.”

Mitch Rees compiled a 4-2-3 score-card at Levels, adding to the 2-2-3 tally he achieved at Ruapuna, proving again that consistency counts for so much.

Rangiora’s Jake Lewis (Yamaha), Christchurch’s Alastair Hoogenboezem (Yamaha) and Taupo’s Scott Moir (Suzuki) round out the top five in this elite class after Levels.

Christchurch’s Dale Finch (Triumph) as so far been unbeaten in the class, winning all the Supersport 600 races at Ruapuna and Levels, and Chandler (Yamaha) is safely second overall after two rounds, but Fuller (just 11 points adrift of Kawasaki’s 2019 600cc champion Avalon Biddle) is a novice in the class and is rightly encouraged by the form he has been exhibiting against his vastly more-experienced rivals.

One of the most impressive riders in the series so far has been 14-year-old Invercargill rider Cormac Buchanan (Yamaha), who won all but one of his 11 races at rounds one and two in the two separate classes he is campaigning this season – the Supersport 300 and Supersport 150 classes.

He is set to race in the high-profile Red Bull Rookies Cup in Europe later this year and surely has a bright future ahead of him.

There will just one round of the NZSBK series left to run after the Mike Pero MotoFest weekend, the fourth and round four at Taupo’s Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park on March 13-14, so scoring points is vital for all competitors at Hampton Downs.

This fourth annual MotoFest extravaganza promises excellence on all fronts, with well-respected identities from all segments of the motorcycle sporting community coming together for a spectacular two days of action.

MotoFest again has the support of Kawasaki, as it has since day one, Bridgestone, Motul, Shoei and MTF Finance. 

Star Insurance will again sponsor and bring to life the Legends Garage, while manufacturer and trade displays will also have fans possibly not knowing which way to look. 

MotoFest will certainly tick all the boxes with bike enthusiasts if the 2021 edition can match last season’s MotoFest.

Class leaders as the NZSBK series heads to Hampton Downs are Whakatane’s Damon Rees (Superbikes); Christchurch’s Aaron Scott (Superbike B, support class); Christchurch’s Dale Finch (Supersport 600); Whangamata’s Jarad Horn (650 Pro Twins); Invercargill’s Cormac Buchanan (Supersport 300 and Supersport 150); Hamilton’s Billee Fuller (GIXXER Cup 150); Tauranga duo Barry Smith and Stu Dawe (Sidecars).

For more information on the upcoming Mike Pero MotoFest weekend, go HERE

2021 NZ Superbike Championships calendar:

Round 1 – January 9-10, Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Ruapuna, Christchurch;

Round 2 – January 16-17, Levels International Raceway, Timaru;

Round 3 – March 6-7, Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, North Waikato, Mike Pero MotoFest;

Round 4 – March 13-14, Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo.

Words & pics: Andy McGechan