The 2017 NZ Superbike & Road Race Championships commence at Ruapuna on January 7-8th with the ‘Southern Nationals’ that also includes the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ruapuna. A weekend later the ‘Deep South Nationals’ on the 14-15th will be held at the Teretonga Park venue in Invercargill. At latitude 46.43 it is the most southern race track in the world and at times over the years riders have felt the full force of the deep southern winds and rains off Foveaux Strait. Fingers crossed 2017 will be sunbathing weather as riders chase those valuable points before heading north. After the fortnight in the South the series gets underway again at the Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park Taupo for the ‘Central North Nationals’ on Feb 25-26th,using the long track before the final event in the New Zealand Championship series at Hampton Downs on the 4-5th of March, the ‘Northern Nationals’ including the New Zealand Tourist Trophy events.

Motorcycling New Zealand Inc General Manager Vicky Hicks & Road Race Commissioner Greg Percival are confident the new series format will work well for all concerned and will present the New Zealand Championships as a revitalised series. ‘We want to see more competitors entered at both the regional level and also undertaking the full series. We have seen registered road race license holders increase in the last few years and we want to see the whole sport step up another level for 2017 with an increase across the board with riders, spectators, media coverage and sponsorship investment in the sport, the latter both in race-bike sponsorship and the series’ says Vicky. ‘People have been asking for the sport to be lifted to a new level for some years and we have put the fundamentals in place this year,’ says Greg.

Road race sport has an amazing heritage says Robert Cochrane, ‘ The New Zealand Grand Prix was first held at Cust in 1936 at Easter on a gravel circuit 35 minutes out of Christchurch in the Waimakariri District. The club volunteers had to sweep the course and lay used engine oil on the track to keep the dust down. When young people look at photos of the old racers they’ll notice their faces covered in oil mist and oil splotches but i’ts not from oil leaking engines, but spray from following other racers as oil covered gravel is flicked up as your fellow competitors accelerate away. In 1964 the Grand Prix was moved to the new sealed Ruapuna Park circuit southwest of Christchurch.’

The New Zealand Tourist Trophy is also steeped in history, being the first New Zealand road race. It was held on 3rd June 1931 on Waiheke Island and run by the Sports Motorcycle Club of Auckland. There were 21 starters with the 135 mile race won by Sid Moses on a 499cc Rudge in 2 hours 45.17. The event was called the New Zealand Motorcycle Tourist Trophy Race becoming our first NZTT event. The NZTT is still held today across all NZ Championship Classes and hosted by the Auckland Motorcycle Club at Hampton Downs, this year on March 4-5th as part of the ‘Northern Nationals meeting.’

New Zealand Championship classes for 2017 will be; Superbike, Superstock 1000, Supersport, Superlite, Pro-Twins, Sidecars, Lightweight Production, Production 250, 125 Grand Prix to be supported by the Development class and either a BEARS or a Post Classic Class.