Waikato‘s Sloan Frost is one cool customer.
The superbike ace projects a calm demeanour in the pits and an unruffled persona on the race track too, despite the fact he’s now widely being tipped as the next big thing in New Zealand motorcycle road-racing.
The Suzuki rider they call “Choppa” is certainly sharp at the moment, impressing with solid rides as he uses the popular Victoria Motorcycle Club’s winter series as a key part of his pre-season build-up.
The New Zealand Superbike Championships kick off in December and, with plenty of testing and practice still to come, Frost is convinced he can improve upon his national ranking of No.6.
That Sloan “Choppa” Frost ranks among the elite after less than two years in the sport is impressive enough, but even more incredible is that the 27-year-old relative rookie is now also knocking on the door of the sport’s established stars.
Frost (and his LG-sponsored Suzuki GSX-R1000) is not just knocking on the door of motorcycle stardom, he’s threatening to kick it down.
On Saturday he raced at the third round of six in the Victoria club’s winter series at Manfeild, just outside Palmerston North, banging handlebars with long-time superbike stars Craig Shirriffs and Hayden Fitzgerald, both on Hondas.
Frost stunned onlookers by qualifying fastest and he then managed 2-3 in his two superbike class outings on Saturday. He then also produced a solid runner-up finish in the day’s superbike feature race, chasing Taranaki’s Fitzgerald to the chequered flag.
“It’s quite good racing alongside Hayden and Craig … I can learn so much from them,” said the modest Frost.
“It’s good to find riders who are fast and try to follow them a bit.”
A former dirt bike specialist, Frost switched to the road-race code two years ago because “I got sick of getting banged up in motocross”.
“I still manage to crash in road-racing too though,” he laughed. “I high-sided off the Suzuki yesterday (on Friday) and I’m a bit sore today, but that’s racing.”
It has been a steep learning curve for the Hamilton man but, never one to shy away from a challenge, Frost is now looking at climbing an even steeper mountain as he heads off-shore shortly to tackle the Australian Superbike Championships.
“Yes, I’m crossing the Tasman to race at round four of their nationals, at Eastern Creek, just outside Sydney, in two weeks’ time. My timing is great actually because this event doubles as round one of the new superstock class so I will actually be in at the beginning of that. I’m doing all the rounds.
“Superstock is a superbike class but without all the expensive modifications … just standard bikes. I have already arranged for myself a 2007-model Suzuki GSX-R1000, similar to the one I’m racing here.
“I’ve only had the Suzuki three months now but straight away I gelled with it. I even broke the lap record at Taupo on my first outing there,” he smiled.
With race wins and lap records already in his wake, it certainly won’t be the last we hear of this rising star from the Waikato.
As for Fitzgerald and Shirriffs, they too were satisfied with their weekend’s racing, these two riders also using the Victoria club series as part of their build-up to the nationals.
Shirriffs won the day in the superbike class, thanks to his 1-2 results, while Fitzgerald finished runner-up, after clocking 3-1 results.
For Shirriffs, any win is a welcome improvement on his lacklustre national championships campaign, the likeable Feilding man lucky to salvage a national ranking of No.5 after a campaign blighted by problems.
“The weekend’s racing is certainly something positive that I can work on,” he said.
The 24-year-old from Fitzgerald, from Bell Block, finished a career-high No.4 in the New Zealand Superbike Championships last season and now, with the 2008-09 season looming, the motorcycle ace is determined to go one or two places better.
“It’s no so much about winning races here, to tell the truth, it’s all about getting myself set up for the nationals,” said Fitzgerald.
“I’m using this Victoria series as part of my preparation. We are trying different brakes and suspension settings and we’ve made good progress. I’m going into the corners with much more confidence now.
“Once I knew I’d achieved what I’d wanted with testing early in the day, the feature race was just about me getting out there and enjoying myself. Of course it’s nice to win, that’s what any racer wants, but I first had to concentrate on getting the small steps taken.
“I’m really looking forward to the nationals now and I feel a podium finish is on the cards this year.”
Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com