The ace has been pulled from the pack.
Australian superbike ace Dan Stauffer (Yamaha R1) may be the current points leader in this season’s New Zealand Superbike Championships after the opening round at Christchurch’s Ruapuna Park on Sunday, but it now transpires that was both his first and last appearance in the series this year.
Budgetary restraints have forced the 35-year-old Yamaha ace from the Gold Coast to pack up his leathers and helmet and head home, despite the fact that Stauffer has a 100% record of wins during his short stint in New Zealand.
“We were never planning to mount a complete campaign in New Zealand and Dan’s appearance at round one in Ruapuna on Sunday was really just a bonus,” said Bernard Racing Yamaha team boss Brian Bernard, speaking from his Wanganui base.
“He came over to compete in the Cemetery Circuit street races at Wanganui on Boxing Day and he will be back to race on the streets of Paeroa on February 19, but that was all we had originally planned. Dan racing at Ruapuna on Sunday was just an extra.”
Stauffer’s record so far in New Zealand this season is most impressive – he won both the superbike races in Wanganui on Boxing Day and then also won the Robert Holden Memorial feature race, before heading to Ruapuna to win the superbike class outright and claim the New Zealand Grand Prix title as well.
“It is just too expensive for us to mount a full nationals campaign this season,” said Bernard. “It’s a bit embarrassing to have to pack up and leave and we’ve had a 100% success rate so far, but the money is just not there. Tyres, fuel, travel, accommodation, entry fees … it all adds up.
“But, with the winning run we’ve had, you could say it is mission accomplished with what we have done so far,” he smiled.
That Stauffer managed to achieve so much success surprised many observers, particularly considering he was using the exact same Yamaha R1 that he campaigned last year, on loan from the Auckland man who bought it off the Yamaha team at the end of last season.
“It’s done a few miles and definitely due for an overhaul,” said Bernard. “We were going to give it a spruce-up this week but that won’t happen now.
“Even so, Dan went a second a lap quicker around Ruapuna on this worn-out bike this year than he managed on it last year when it was a fresher bike.
“Dan was riding the best he ever has and he’s gutted to have to call it quits here in New Zealand. He would have loved to race at Timaru. It’s one of his favourite venues.”
Stauffer’s absence leaves a huge hole in the superbike class, one that’s most likely to be filled by fellow Australian Robbie Bugden, the Suzuki rider currently second in the standings, or by other stand-out riders such as Christchurch’s John Ross (BMW), currently third, Auckland’s Ray Clee (Suzuki) or Feilding’s Craig Shirriffs (Suzuki).
Bike fans will have to wait until February 19 to see Stauffer ride again, when he next crosses the Tasman to race and, hopefully, to win again, on the public streets of Paeroa.
Last year at Paeroa, Stauffer won both superbike races and the 10-lap King of the Streets feature race as well, remarkably on his debut ride at the event.
The news about Stauffer is the second major blow for the Yamaha contingent as it was revealed Auckland’s Jaden Hassan is also now out of the series, the 600cc supersport ace crashing during practice this week and injuring his back.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com