His nickname is “Superman” and, even as he rapidly approaches his 64th birthday, he’s still proving himself faster than a speeding bullet.

Ararimu bike racer Paul Pavletich has been up to his same old tricks … winning major motorcycle racing titles … and he has no plans to slow down just yet.

The professional riding and driving instructor again showed that age is no barrier to winning at the top level, wrapping up the six-round 2021-22 New Zealand Classic Motorcycle Racing Register’s (NZCMRR) series with a round to spare, a impressive feat he has achieved on multiple occasions.

Pavletich and his 1000cc 1989 Yamaha OW-01 bike were always at the sharp end in the Pre-89 F1 class when the NZCMRR Series kicked off at Pukekohe in early February 2021 and Pavletich went on to finish on the podium in 15 of the 16 races during the series, a typically one-season competition that was actually extended this time around to cover a 20-month period because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

His only non-podium finish was when a $10 ignition switch vibrated loose and he couldn’t finish the race.

Several former New Zealand champions and top Kiwi internationals lined up against Pavletich at various times throughout the series, noted racers such as Christchurch’s Dennis Charlett, Taupo’s Scott Moir, Auckland’s Dave Cole, Auckland’s Brendon Coad and Hastings’ Gian Louie, to name a few.  

“Not all contested the whole series this year,” Pavletich explained. “For me, it’s such a treat to race against guys just mentioned, because they are so fast and clean to race with. Even though it’s faster at the front, it’s often safer because these guys are so super talented.

“The NZCMRR Pukekohe Festival is the biggest road-race event in the country, attracting up to 300 race machines and often multiple international riders, pre-Covid.

He said the final Pukekohe Festival will take place in February 2023 and it would be “a massive event”.

“It’s great to see a number of young riders coming through too, individuals like Karl Hooper, Jordan Burley and Matt Eggelton.”

Pavletich is modest in accepting kudos for his race wins, generously attributing a part of his successes to his elder brother, Mark Pavletich.

“I have a team that, without them, it would not be possible to achieve the success and consistency I push for. My brother Mark does the majority of the work on the race bike, including engine development.

“He is extremely talented engineer and tuner and as an former successful rider understands my feedback and knows exactly what to do to sharpen the 170hp plus beast.

“I’m nearly 64 years old and so, to be honest, it’s getting harder. My software is still processing really fast but my hardware is not where it needs to be.

“I find if I train in my home gym four to five days a week, it’s not a problem to attack the relatively short eight-lap races with full energy. If I get lazy and start relying on natural talent and experience my body lets me know. 

“I do a lot of MX practice which I believe is invaluable to riding fast. It sharpens your reflexes and gets you into attack mode that’s needed to win races.

“We have had a dream run on this 1989 Yamaha OW01, winning three F1 NZCMRR Championships, an AMCC Post Classic F1 Championship and street circuit wins at Paeroa and Whanganui. 

“My immediate goal is to get on the podium at Whanganui’s Cemetery Circuit this year. I first achieved this way back in 1982, riding a Honda CBX550, so to nail that 40 years on would be amazing and something we would be very proud of. It’s not going to be easy, but we will give it a real shot.

“I am thinking about retiring at the end of the February 2023 Classic Festival and heading back to saloon car racing. I still love the racing and camaraderie this team sport offers.”

Pavletich is supported by Academic Audio, Metzeler tyres, Fazy Luck and AA Rider Training, Motomail, BRM dyno.

Final 2021-22 leading standings in NZCMRR Pre-89 Formula One class: 1. Paul Pavletich (Yamaha); 2. Karl Hooper (Kawasaki); 3. Dennis Charlett (Suzuki); 4. Mark Hatton (Yamaha); 5. Craig Seddon (Suzuki); 6. Gian Louie (Suzuki); 7. Brett Fullerton (Kawasaki); 8. John Roper (Yamaha); 9. Perry Lett (Suzuki); 10. Dave Cole (Ducati).

Credit: Words & photo by Andy McGechan