It was a massive turnaround in fortunes for Canterbury’s Alastair Hoogenboezem at the third round of five in this year’s Yamaha-sponsored New Zealand Superbike Championships at Hampton Downs, in North Waikato, at the weekend.
The 27-year-old Christchurch builder crashed spectacularly in the weekend’s first of three races in the premier superbike class on Saturday, but, uninjured and thanks to a huge overnight effort from his pit crew, the bike was repaired and he was ready to race again the following day.
And race he did – despite trepidation following his horrifying crash just 24 hours earlier, Hoogenboezem finished third in the first of two superbike class races on Sunday and then made his weekend turnaround complete by earning the coveted New Zealand TT (Tourist Trophy) title when he narrowly won the marathon 12-lapper, the third and final superbike race of the weekend.
Whakatane’s Damon Rees had topped the superbike class after rounds one and two in the South Island, but, because he has since headed overseas to chase international glory, he was a no-show at Hampton Downs and he won’t be at the final two rounds at Manfeild (on March 28-29) or at Taupo (on April 4-5) either.
Rees’ absence and Hoogenboezem’s strong showing at Hampton Downs allowed Hoogenboezem to assume the championship lead in this class.
He is now three points clear of Taupo’s Scott Moir, the man who won the weekend overall in the superbike class, Moir’s 1-1-2 results at Hampton Downs seeing him scoot from fifth in the championship standings to the runner-up spot.
Despite his absence, Rees is third overall in the title chase.
There was a turnaround in fortunes in the Supersport 600 class too, with Upper Hutt’s Rogan Chandler making up for his disappointing results in the South Island to win the weekend in the 600cc class at Hampton Downs.
Chandler’s hat-trick of wins in the class at Hampton Downs (including his winning the 12-lap TT race), saw him rocket from a distant fourth overall in the standings to the runner-up position, albeit still a massive points margin behind Hampton Downs’ fastest qualifier in the class, Whanganui’s Richie Dibben.
Dibben finished runner-up to Chandler in each of the weekend’s 600cc races and actually extended his championship lead – he is now 60 points ahead of Chandler instead of 54 points ahead of the previous No.2 man, Palmerston North’s Ashton Hughes.
Other class leaders after round three at Hampton Downs are Auckland’s Nathanael Diprose (Supersport 300, provisional); Whangaparoa’s Nathan Jane (650 Pro Twins); Taupo’s Andy Scrivener and Tina McKeown (Sidecars); Invercargill’s Cormac Buchanan (Supersport 150) and Nelson’s Tyrone Kuipers (GIXXER Cup 150). Christchurch’s Dennis Charlett won the Motul New Zealand Classic Grand Prix that was run at this event only and Australian Damian Mackie won the Shoei Classic Two-Strokes class, this class also run only at Hampton Downs. Hamilton’s Jesse Stroud won the Ninja Cup class at Hampton Downs and Riverton’s Loren May won the Hyosung Cup class at the weekend.
Other Tourist Trophy title winners were Diprose (Supersport 300); Jane (650 Pro Twins); Scrivener and McKeown (Sidecars) and Buchanan (Supersport 150).
Motorcycling New Zealand roadrace commissioner Grant Ramage said the racing had been hot all weekend.
“All the classes were well patronised and the superbike racing was consistently under the lap record. The big crowd would have been well entertained,” he said.
“Last season the superbike title went right down to the wire and was won in the end by just one point. It might be the same case this year too.”
The 2020 New Zealand Superbike Championships are supported by Yamaha New Zealand, Aon Insurance, ICG and Pirelli, Trust Aoraki, Blue Wing Honda, NZ Racing Board, Bike Rider Magazine and Sky Sport Next.
2020 NZ Superbike Championships calendar:
Round 1 – January 11-12, Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Christchurch;
Round 2 – January 18-19, Levels International Raceway, Timaru;
Round 3 – March 7-8, Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, North Waikato, Mike Pero MotoFest;
Round 4 – March 28-29, Circuit Chris Amon, Manfeild, Feilding;
Round 5 – April 4-5, Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo
Words by Andy McGechan, Photo by Aaron Staples