A two-day meeting was held at Taupo Motorsport Park for the annual One-Hour and Three-Hour Endurance races on Saturday, while Sunday was round one of the five-round 2011/2012 Bike Rider Magazine Summer Series hosted by the Pacific Motorcycle Club.
Saturday’s racing was the one-hour endurance race for smaller engine capacity motorcycles, followed by the three-hour endurance race for the Supersport and Superbike classes.
The one-hour race was completed in perfect sunny conditions. Close times from practice and qualifying promised to lead to an exciting and strategic race.
There were individuals as well as two ride teams racing the 1 Hour long race. Abby Mes of Hamilton on her Honda CBR450 came away with the win by 13 seconds over the team of Mark Boyes & Tyler Firm and a further 44 seconds adrift was Peter Robson in 3rd.
A fast-chasing Gavin Pelham & Todd Marston rounding out the top five places. The top five were all setting times of under 1min 51sec consistently. Jaden and Aaron Hassan pushed their little Kawasaki Ninja 250 ahead of Aaron Carr on another Kawasaki Ninja 250 machine.
The three-hour endurance race was lesson in strategies and tactics. There were several very strong teams entered with BJ Cawthorn and Tony Rees, (Yamaha R1), Travis and Fred Merkel (Suzuki GSXR600), Mark Bennett and John Oliver, Jaden Hassan and Michael Reid (Yamaha R6), Jay Lawrence and David McArthur (Kawasaki ZX10). Rees fell in practice on Cawthorn’s bike and had to use his R1 for the three-hour race, which Cawthorn and Rees proceeded to win (full report of that was posted earlier this week on BikesportNZ.com).
The following day was round one of the 2011/2012 Bike Rider Magazine Summer Series.
Rees had headed home, but Hassan was back from medical attention with a few broken toes and helping Ray Whitham with the day’s commentary and a little personal history and experience of his trip to Suzuka with Graham Crosby.
A few faces that will be competing in the upcoming New Zealand Road Racing Championships were attending to get some much needed practice. Craig Shirriffs, of Palmerston North, and a number of other riders increasing the field size that was a bit down on expected numbers.
Shirriffs (pictured above) was in brilliant form, participating in all classes possible.
He took wins in the Superbike and Asian Bikes classes with posting the fastest lap of anyone on the day. In the second Superbike race BJ Cawthorn lost out in the third lap squeeze leading onto the start/finish straight.
Napier’s Brent Nelson, on his Aprilia RSV4, after the Victoria Winter Series is really showing a lot of form. Greg Dodunski had come from Timaru for the meeting and a look at Taupo as the Pacific Motorcycle Club is running the final of the National Road Racing Championship at Taupo on the 24th & 25th of March next year.
Supermotard racing has always been close, fast and exciting to watch at Taupo. These bikes used the short track. Lewis Waho, Casey Bullock Russell Josiah and Nick Kampenhout had extremely close racing all day with Lewis Wahoo coming out on top with Bullock close behind.
Travis Merkel was kept honest in the F2 class by a fast improving Avalon Biddle and Marcus Beagley. This proved great racing as F1 & F2 ran in the same races.
Asian Bikes and BEARS classes were run together due to smaller fields which had an interesting mix of bikes.
Shirriffs chose to ride this class also and had a lap time 10 seconds faster than anyone else in the race as he was using the race meeting and preparation for the upcoming New Zealand Superbike series.
There is some great talent coming through with Havelock North rider Tyler Lincoln putting in fast laps and easily winning his Streetstock 150 class and continuing on the form he showed in the winter, when he won the Victoria Motorcycle Club Streetstock 150 class.
Zane Burrell of Hastings, another young 13-year-old, was competing in the Streestock 150 class and adapting well to his new machine and he improved his lap times with every race.
Ernie Cudby and Dr Steve Bagshaw led the way in the Post Classic class, with Andy McDonald pushing hard for third place in the Post Classic races.
These top riders will be at the nationals in the South Island in January and February, but all riders will also be racing the March meeting at Taupo as support classes including challenging for the 2012F4 / F5 New Zealand Grand Prix title.
© Words by Simon Robson
© Photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com