A cool head and years of experience paid rich dividends for Hamilton father-of-seven Andrew Stroud on Monday.
It was a must-win situation when the Suzuki star arrived at Taupo’s Centennial Race Circuit for Monday’s third and final round of the Suzuki International Tri Series.
He was level in the points standings with arch rival Craig Shirriffs, of Feilding, after the pair had scored identical results at rounds one and two – at Manfeild a fortnight ago and on the streets of Wanganui on Boxing Day – but the deadlock was broken in the first of two races at Taupo’s finale on Monday.
The weather played a big part and seven-time former New Zealand superbike champion Stroud guessed right with his tyre choice in race one, opting for slick tyres on his Brother Suzuki GSX-R1000 while the more cautious Shirriffs picked grooved rubber.
The rain that threatened never arrived and Stroud was able to race away to a commanding victory while Shirriffs was forced to withdraw, his tyres not up to the pace.
“Then it started spitting again and that made it quite greasy, so I had to slow down,” Stroud said.
“But I’d correctly guessed that the track was okay for slicks. It was damp but not bad enough to need rain tyres.”
But the points were already in the bag and sensible riding in the next outing was all that was required for Stroud to successfully defend the crown he won last year.
But Stroud raced to the lead and, although Shirriffs challenged hard, it was Stroud in front at the finish – the Waikato man making it 1-1 for the day and the title staying in his hands.
Stroud said he now felt very well prepared for the New Zealand Superbike Championships, which kick off at Christchurch’s Ruapuna circuit o January 16.
For the pre-season Tri Series, Stroud won races at all three rounds, and also set lap records at Manfeild and Taupo, and then won the Robert Holden Memorial feature race at Wanganui.
Wellington teenager Glen Skachill (Suzuki) won the Tri Series’ Formula 2 title and New Plymouth veteran Terry Fitzgerald (Suzuki) won the Formula 3 category.
Italian visitor Davide Gozzini (TM) won the super motard class, while Wanganui’s Adam Unsworth and Stu Dawe (Honda) won the sidecars title.
Results from the Suzuki International Tri Series racing at Taupo on Monday:
Race 1: Andrew Stroud (Hamilton) Suzuki 1, Sloan Frost (Hamilton) Suzuki 2, Ray Clee (Kumeu) Suzuki 3.
Race 2: Stroud 1, Craig Shirriffs (Fielding) Honda 2, Hayden Fitzgerald (New Plymouth) Honda 3.
Series winner: Stroud.
Race 1: Jamie Galway (Masterton) Honda 1, Paul Dobbs (Waiuku) Ducati 2, Sam Love (Tauranga) Yamaha 3.
Race 2: Love 1, Galway 2, Karl Morgan (Auckland ) Suzuki 3.
Series winner: Glen Skachill (Wellington) Suzuki.
Race 1: Terry Fitzgerald (New Plymouth) Suzuki 1, Jason Easton (Palmerston North) Tigcraft-Aprilia 2, Russell Josiah (Taumaranui) Suzuki 3.
Race 2: Fitzgerald 1, Glen Williams (Palmerston North) Suzuki 2, Easton 3.
Series winner: Fitzgerald.
Race 1: Scott Moir (Taupo) Aprilia 1, Davide Gozzini (Italy) TM 2, Scott Birch (Rotorua) KTM 3.
Race 2: Ivan Lazzarini (Italy) Honda 1, Gozzini 2, Toby Summers (Auckland) Aprilia 3.
Series winner: Gozzini.
Race 1: Steve Bron/Dennis Simonsen (Wanganui) Suzuki 1, Adam Unsworth/Stu Dawe (Wanganui) Honda 2, Chris Lawrance/Richie Lawrance (Auckland) Yamaha 3.
Race 2: Bron/Simonsen 1, Lawrance/Lawrance 2, Unsworth/Dawe 3.
Series winner: Unsworth/Dawe.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com