New Zealand’s biggest stand-alone road-race series is fast becoming a global phenomenon and it is growth that excites the man who organises the competition and also the many thousands of Kiwi motorcycle race fans.
With continued support from Suzuki New Zealand, the revs are building for the start of the 2016 edition of the Suzuki Series, the popular pre-nationals competition that has grown in leaps and bounds since its inaugural running in 2008.
The annual three-round series – which includes the famous Boxing Day street race meeting on the public roads of Wanganui’s Cemetery Circuit – looks set to sparkle again in 2016, and beyond, as organiser Alan ‘Flea’ Willacy confirmed this week that Suzuki New Zealand had agreed to sponsor the competition for at least another two seasons.
The iconic Boxing Day street race event in Wanganui is again the third and final round of the competition and this year will also be the 64th running of the legendary Cemetery Circuit races.
“It’s fantastic to have this support from Suzuki this year and in 2017 as well,” said Willacy.
The Cemetery Circuit event is one of New Zealand’s biggest bike races, an iconic event on the Kiwi race calendar, a spectacular one-day show that attracts many thousands of race fans each summer and also lures top-class motorcycle racers from throughout New Zealand and from overseas as well.
“We are receiving calls almost daily from international riders who want to make the trip here,” said Willacy. “Word has spread over the years and now this series has become a must-do for many of the world’s leading racers. I haven’t been chasing them … but that hasn’t stopped them coming to us.”
“We have some big names pencilled in already, but I’m not in a position to confirm those names publicly just yet,” he said.
From world champion sidecar rider Tim Reeves, who came last year, to Isle of Man legend and television personality Guy Martin, the series has never been short of a draw-card or two over the past few years.
The 2016 race programme will start to take shape over the coming months and Willacy hopes to be able to name some big names before the three-round series’ first race, set for a new venue this year, the Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park near Taupo on Sunday, December 4.
Manfeild, on the outskirts of Feilding, will again host round two, a week later on December 11, and the public streets of Wanganui will again host the final on Boxing Day (December 26).
“We are looking forward to taking the series to the Taupo tourist trap destination and we think the change will be good for the series. Taupo is one of those rare tracks where spectators can enjoy an unimpeded view of the entire circuit. It’s a great place to view the action.”
“This is the same feature that makes Manfeild such a popular venue too.”
Spokesperson for Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Jacki Hanning, said she was looking forward to the event in December.
“We are extremely honoured to have been approached to host this event and proud to be working with a great team of people to make it happen,” she said.
Wellington’s Sloan Frost took his Suzuki GSX-R1000 to win the Suzuki Series last season, his first major superbike trophy after eight years of trying, and this set him up nicely to go on and win the New Zealand Superbike Championships in the months that followed.
Credit: Words by Andy McGechan