It was edge-of-the-seat excitement at round three of the series at Hampton Downs at the start of this month, the event that weekend sharing the programme with the MotoFest extravaganza, and racing at Circuit Chris Amon, Manfeild, this Saturday and Sunday (March 30-31) will perhaps be no less frenetic.
There was virtually nothing to separate Taupo’s Scott Moir from Glen Eden’s Daniel Mettam at the front on the premier superbike class at Hampton Downs and it was the same scenario in the Supersport 600 class too, with mere millimetres between Manukau’s Toby Summers and Rangiora’s Avalon Biddle.
The riders head to Feilding’s world-renowned Manfeild race track knowing that any slip-up now could prove disastrous and perhaps a race win or two the only way to keep their title hopes alive.
Christchurch’s Alastair Hoogenboezem Whakatane’s Damon Rees and Wellington’s defending superbike champion Sloan Frost are respectively third, fourth and fifth in the superbike standings and they will be looking to make in-roads this weekend.
Third, fourth and fifth respectively in the Supersport 600 class are Feilding’s Ashton Hughes, Tapanui’s Seth Devereux and Upper Hutt’s Rogan Chandler, also determined to make Manfeild count.
Hughes is certainly one man to watch out for at Manfeild, a venue where the Ohakea-based Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft technician really can be expected to fly.
“Manfeild will probably be a less stressful place for me than other tracks. I go there knowing all the settings for my bike and not having the learn the circuit,” said the 26-year-old.
“Hopefully that will give me a bit of an advantage. There are still six more races to go (in this class, three each at Manfeild and then the final round of the series at Taupo), so anything can still happen.”
Other class leaders after round three of the series, committed to keeping their positions safe, are Palmerston North’s Jacob Stroud (Supersport 300 class); Papamoa’s Leon Jacobs (250 Production class); Jacob Stroud (Superlites); Christchurch’s Nick Cain (650 Pro Twins, provisional); Australia’s Yanni Shaw (125 GP); Hamilton’s Jesse Stroud (GIXXER Cup) and Christchurch’s Dennis Charlett and Will Clim (sidecars).
Motorcycling New Zealand road-racing co-commissioner Grant Ramage said it was great to see the nationals returning to Manfeild for the first time since 2014.
“This track always produces great racing and I’ve done plenty of laps there myself over the years,” he laughed.
“The banked corners and high apex speeds mean the overall speeds achieved there can be quite high and slipstreaming is quite an important factor for the riders.
“It is probably make or break time at Manfeild for some of the title hopefuls, although the competition is still very wide open.”
The 2019 New Zealand Superbike Championships will wrap up at Taupo’s Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park on April 6-7.
The 2019 New Zealand Superbike Championships are supported by DHL Express New Zealand Ltd (DHL), Suzuki New Zealand, Yamaha Motor New Zealand, Carl Cox Motorsport, ICG Print, Honda New Zealand, Pirelli, Resene Automotive and Light Industrial, CTAS, MX Timing, BikeRider magazine, Trust Aoraki and Timaru District Council. Suzuki also supports the GIXXER Cup.
2019 NZ Superbike Championships calendar:
Round 1 – January 5-6, Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Christchurch;
Round 2 – January 12-13, Levels International Raceway, Timaru;
Round 3 – March 2-3, Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, North Waikato, Mike Pero MotoFest;
Round 4 – March 30-31, Circuit Chris Amon, Manfeild;
Round 5 – April 6-7, Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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