Greymouth's Clark Fountain, the "West Coast Warrior", glides through the infield at Manfeild. Photo by Andy McGechan

Last season’s inaugural Suzuki GIXXER Cup series was an overwhelming success and it’s set to be even better in 2018-19.

The GIXXER Cup competition was first created late last year and quickly matured and developed into one of the most exciting and closely-followed of racing classes to run during the 2017-18 road-race season.

Now, after some thoughtful consideration, that inaugural competition has undergone a couple of tweaks, to make it even more popular for the upcoming 2018-19 season.

The GIXXER Cup competition will again be incorporated within the popular three-round Suzuki Series that kicks off in December and the five-round 2019 New Zealand Superbike Championships that are set to follow shortly afterwards, but slightly modified now to not handicap under 16-year-old riders who are deemed too young to race on the public streets of Whanganui’s world-famous Cemetery Circuit.

With this in mind, Suzuki has made the decision to change the rules regarding points allocation for the GIXXER Cup.

There will now be a total of seven rounds that count towards prize money and points for the GIXXER Cup series and the Cemetery Circuit event on Boxing Day will now be treated as a stand-alone event for the GIXXER Cup riders, with its own separate prize pool and trophy.

Therefore, there will no longer be an option to discard a round of the series and so all seven rounds – at purpose-built circuits at Taupo (riders visiting there twice), Feilding (twice), Christchurch, Timaru and North Waikato – will be counted for points in the 2018-19 GIXXER Cup.

The riders’ contingency fund for the GIXXER Cup has also now been boosted to a whopping $10,000, offering an additional incentive for aspiring young racers, individuals who perhaps may not previously have considered tackling the sport.

All riders in the GIXXER Cup class are on identical Suzuki GSX150F bikes, entry is restricted to riders aged between 14 and 21 years and, with virtually no modifications allowed to the bikes, the racing is guaranteed to be close and exciting.

Ready to race at just $4,995, these air-cooled, four-stroke, single-cylinder bikes have been prepared in the Suzuki workshop by Wellington’s national superbike champion Sloan Frost.

Fitted with Dunlop AL14 tyres and a host of other hand-crafted race parts, the purchaser also has his or her GSX150F bike delivered complete with a rear race stand.

The class of racing is inexpensive, competitive and the perfect way for young riders to learn the sport and acquire true race craft.

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 fledgeling 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.

Some of last season’s GIXXER Cup “stars”, 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.

With the tagline “Growing Future Champions”, the 2018-19 GIXXER Cup series could be considered a nursery ground for New Zealand’s next national and international motorcycling stars, heralding the beginnings of a potentially great, long-term racing career.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan