With entries closed and over 160 riders now preparing for the annual Mobil 1 Battle of the Streets bike race in Paeroa, it’s only a matter of days before the antique town is awakened to the sound of motorcycle engines warming up.
2012 signals the 21st Anniversary of this iconic event and once again Paeroa will come to life under the cover of darkness as over 300 helpers assemble a racetrack that incorporates State Highway 2 as well as the back streets of the Waikato town.
With the main street only available from Transit between 6am – 6pm, the racetrack needs to be built, raced upon and then returned back to the regular traffic within the 12-hour period. And it’s no easy job.
Spectators that make the annual pilgrimage to Paeroa will have a fantastic day out, a day that begins with free parking and easy access to the racetrack and continues with an unlimited ability to walk around and witness the thrills and spills of street racing from all over the town. This year sees a dedicated family area complete with climbing wall and bouncy castle that will give parents an option to entertain the children if watching motorbikes becomes too much.
But with this level of competition, it’s looking like the action on the track will be as hot as the weather that regularly graces the annual race.
Originally part of a series, the Paeroa meeting is now a standalone event although it still manages to attract a crowd larger than almost all other motorcycle events in the country, with up to 15,000 spectators visiting to witness the action. With unlimited access to the pits allowing spectators to get up close with the terrific machines and star racers, spectators can also get closer to the action at a street race, with bikes racing at speeds up to 280kph down the narrow streets.
Dan Stauffer is returning from Australia to defend his title after taking out the Formula 1 race and the King of the Streets aboard his Yamaha R1 in 2011. This year Stauffer is returning on the Yamaha, and with a competitive showing in the first two rounds of the NZ Superbike Nationals, it’s looking like he’ll be the one to beat again around the Waikato streets.
There are obviously a few riders who will try anything to ruin the Aussie’s plans, with Tony Rees likely to be the one trying the hardest as Stauffer is riding his bike!
That’s right, Stauffer is riding Rees’ 2010 superbike so Tony is going to dust off his 2005 championship-winning superbike and see if his old Yamaha is a match of the latest superbike machinery. This will be a battle worthy of the 21st anniversary meeting!
But Wellington-based Sloan Frost will also be trying his hardest to keep the Aussie behind him aboard his race developed BMW S1000R, which (unlike Tony’s superbike) is complete with a host of electronic aides, should be perfect to deal with the tricky conditions riders face on the street circuit.
There will also be two Honda riders in the mix with Hayden Fitzgerald and Ryan Hampton both returning to Paeroa and always posing a threat. This year with their Hondas developed for another season, chances are they will be fighting for the lead each and every lap.
Frost will also be competing in the BEARS class aboard his BMW, which last year was devastatingly fast and dominant in both races. With another BMW in the mix ridden by Travis Moan as well as a Ducati 1098 campaigned by Andrew Forward, Frost might not get it all his own way this year.
Terry Fitzgerald and Glen Williams battle tooth and nail whenever they’re on a track together and Paeroa will be no different, with the two experienced campaigners riding similar Suzuki SV650 machines. If anyone gets ahead of them it’s likely to be because these two are so busy fighting with one another.
The Supermotards have the wildest style of racing on the streets of Paeroa and some of the wildest riders aboard them, with sliding into turns and wheelstands out of corners all part and parcel of riding a dirt bike on the road. Scotty Moir, Toby Summers and Mitch Rowe are guaranteed to be banging handlebars whenever the flag drops.
Glen Williams should also be at the pointy end of the field of the Pre’89 racing as long as his Bimota YB8 behaves itself, although crowd favourite Patrick Nussbaum is back once again.
The Pre’82 class is full of the most fantastically restored machines that most of the crowd should be able to relate to, with Sean Donnelly and his Kawasaki normally leading the field. Eric Bone is back this year and not only to do parade laps, but Steve Bridge will always be pushing for a win aboard his immaculately presented Ducati TT2.
With 13 sidecars taking to the circuit, the racing is going to be tight especially with some of the best teams in the country coming to Paeroa. Chris Lawrance and Andy Scrivener will be at the front of the pack but keep an eye out for the all female team of Tracey Anderson and Joanne Mickleson.
Finally Paeroa wouldn’t be complete without the glorious classics roaring around the circuit, slower than most other bikes but making up for it with the memories they evoke in the crowd.
It takes many hours of constant maintenance to keep these machines in race readiness, although that certainly doesn’t stop these riders trying to squeeze the last ounce of performance from these classic machines.
Mobil 1 will have a stand at Paeroa selling the official anniversary t-shirts, as well as a selection of beautiful Mobil 1 girls that will be happy to stop for a photograph. Located alongside the entrance to the pits (in the Council Car Park), this year more than ever will be worth paying a visit especially to check out the Britten that will be based at the stand. And with more retail stalls also booked to come along, all roads are going to be leading to Paeroa on Feb 19 for any motorcyclists or those who just love close racing.
For further details visit: www.battleofthestreets.co.nz
Tickets: Adults 16 years and over – $30
10 – 15 years – $15
Under 10 years – Free
Pay at the gate. Eftpos available on some entrances. Discounted tickets available via the Battle of the Streets website or Event Finder prior to the event.
Races and brief description
Formula 1 (1000cc Premier Class)
Formula 2 (600cc four cylinder)
Formula 3 (400cc four cylinder and 650cc twins)
Post Classic Pre ’82 & ’89 – Bikes built before these dates and often classed as the ‘new’ classics.
Junior & Senior Classics – The original classics and a favourite in the pits for the spectators.
Post Classic Sidecars and F1 Sidecars
Supermoto (Dirt bikes on road tyres)
BEARS – British, European, American Racing Series
King of the Streets – The fastest racers in the morning go head-to-head
© Photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com