It may be true that Kiwi internationals currently lead the New Zealand Superbike Championships after two of four rounds, but there will be added international flavour to the second half of the series when racing resumes next month.
Round three is set for the Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park circuit, on the outskirts of Taupo, on February 25-26, and there spectators will see young English rider James “Flick” Flitcroft join the superbike class starting grid at the nationals for the first time.
With massive support from Aprilia New Zealand and the Hamilton-based NTB Racing Team crew, the 20-year-old Flitcroft will race an Aprilia RSV4 RF superstock bike.
He is actually no stranger to racing in New Zealand, having ridden in the pre-nationals Suzuki Series in December, but he does still regard himself as a novice on the big bikes.
“I had originally only planned on visiting New Zealand to have a holiday and see some of the country. But I enjoy racing bikes too and, when opportunities like this come up, I could not refuse.
“I don’t have much experience on 1000cc superbikes, so I have a lot still to learn,” Flitcroft said.
Flitcroft will contest the Aprilia RSV4 RF in the remaining rounds of the 2017 New Zealand Superbike Championships – in Taupo and at Hampton Downs – and he will be returning again to compete in 2018, in both the Suzuki Series and the nationals, armed with the latest race model.
Aprilia New Zealand commented: “James is a very talented rider, with an impressive CV. Combined with our class leading bike, we are confident of some impressive results.”
Flitcroft said he was thrilled to be able to join the national championship series and NTB Racing Team manager Mark Fisher was also looking forward to what lies ahead.
“I have worked with James before and he’s a real pleasure to deal with,” said Fisher.
“He is totally professional and he can convey to us exactly how the bike is behaving and what is needed to be done. Then he just leaves it up to us. I’m looking forward to Taupo and Hampton Downs and then next season too.”
Motorcycling New Zealand road-racing commissioner Greg Percival said Flitcroft’s entrance into the 1000cc superstock competition would enhance the sport ahead of next season when bikes would be expected to adhere to a more stock configuration in the premier class.
“This is a real boost in confidence for the 2018 New Zealand Superbike Championship season, as that is when the race machines move to a more stock production format that will be equally as fast and exciting as we evidenced in Teretonga with the Jeremy Holmes podium in the superbike class on his Superstock 1000 Honda,” Percival said.
Words: Andy McGechan, BikeSportNZ.com