Taranaki’s Midge Smart can probably only wonder what might have been.
The 23-year-old has been extremely busy in recent months, working as manager of the Railway Hotel in Inglewood, and his absence from the starting grid at the New Zealand Superbike Championships has been noted by friends, rivals and fans alike.
But that situation was rectified at Manfeild, near Palmerston North, on Sunday when he turned up in new colours and with fire in his eyes.
By late afternoon Sunday he was the talk of the pits after his winning debut ride on a 2007-model Yamaha R6.
Smart finished 1-2 in his two outings in the fiercely-contested 600cc sports production class, posing the question that it might have been his year to win the title if only he’d also raced the earlier three rounds in the South Island.
“My budget has just been too tight for me to race a full series,” he said. “And I’ve been pretty busy with work too.
“I was more on the pace than I was expecting to be, that’s for sure. I haven’t done much riding in the past year and a half but when Auckland’s Glenn Hessell came to me with an offer to ride his bike, I couldn’t resist. Yamaha came to the party too and they’ve been great.
“Now I’m able to go racing again. There’s only one round to go (in the five-round series) but I still think it’s possible for me to finish inside the top 10.”
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com