CHARLETT TAKES SUPERBIKE CROWN
Slow but steady wins the race … that was the cunning plan of Canterbury motorcycle ace Dennis Charlett at the weekend.
But in a sport when even going slow can mean racing at speeds in excess of 200kmph, it was never going to be a weekend without risk for the multi-time former national road-race champion.
The Christchurch Suzuki rider arrived at Manfeild for the fourth and final ‘double-header’ round of the New Zealand Superbike Championships with his main rival, Hamilton’s Nick Cole (Kawasaki ZX-10R), sidelined following an assault in a restaurant in Taupo the previous weekend, giving him nearly two race wins up his sleeve over the next best rider, Taupo’s Scott Moir (Suzuki GSX-R 1000).
With only five superbike races on the three-day programme, Charlett knew that a sensible approach should allow him to clinch his first national superbike crown.
And so it proved, with Charlett “cruising” to seventh, eighth and sixth placings on Friday and Saturday, enough to wrap up the premier class for 2014.
In the final race on Sunday, he was able to turn up the heat again and he led for most of the 10-lap race, only to be passed for the win right at the end by visiting Australian Linden Magee (BMW S1000RR).
Magee had also won the third race of the weekend, his 9-7-1-5-1 score-line over the three days elevating him from sixth position after round three to finish the championships in the No.2 spot.
With six or seven riders battling for the lead throughout the weekend, this was a fitting finale to this highly-competitive season, one that astonishingly featured seven different race winners in the superbike class.
One of those was young Aucklander Jaden Hassan (Suzuki GSX-R1000), a feat that was all the more remarkable because this was his debut season on a superbike.
“It was a really difficult weekend for me,” said Charlett afterwards. “Most people will probably under-rate how difficult it is to race at this level with a championship win constantly in the back of your mind. I could feel every bump on the track and was riding overly-cautious because I was aware that any little mistake or a tangle with another rider could spell disaster. Racing accidents happen so easily, and so quickly, and the first corner was madness.”
Charlett was national 125cc champion in 1999 and had previously also won the 600cc class on three separate occasions, but the superbike title is the jewel in his crown.
“I go into semi-retirement now,” said the 45-year-old grand-father.
“I will race at club days and work at coaching some of the young riders down in the South Island.”
In the 600cc Supersport class, fellow Cantabrian John Ross (Suzuki GSX-R600) followed Charlett’s example – he was in a similar position to Charlett in that he led his class by a whopping 28 points from Manukau’s Toby Summers (Yamaha R6), putting him slightly more than a full race ahead at the start of the weekend.
Reigning national No.1 Ross rode gingerly in Friday and Saturday’s races, and the first of Sunday’s two races, to ensure that he too wrapped up the championship.
“I felt the pressure on all the way through this series,” Ross said after successfully defending his 2013 title. “It’s been very competitive this season, the best for years.
“I was prepared to sacrifice a few points this weekend to make sure I won the championship.
“I will race again next year but don’t know what bike it will be. I’d like to give the superbike class a crack, but I’d also like to make it three in a row in the 600cc class too. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
A third Christchurch rider, 19-year-old Matthew Hoogenboezem (Honda RS125), also went into cruise mode during his final race to make sure of winning the 125GP championship, finishing ahead of an unlucky Tyler Lincoln (Honda RS125), of Hastings.
The 16-year-old Lincoln, a Hastings Boys’ High School year 12 pupil, crashed out of two of his 13 races in the 125GP class and finished a frustratingly-close four points behind Hoogenboezem.
Taranaki rider Hayden Fitzgerald (Suzuki) had an excellent weekend in two different divisions, winning the superbike class overall at the weekend with 2-2-3-4-3 placings – and he then sealed the Superlites class championship on his father’s Suzuki SV650.
“That’s my first national championship – and dad (Terry Fitzgerald) won the championship on the same bike 10 years ago,” Fitzgerald said. “And we just seemed to click on the superbike too this weekend.”
Champions in other classes are: Pro Twins, Royd Walker-Holt (Kawakawa, Suzuki SV650); 250 Production, Bailie Perriton (Ashburton, Kawasaki Ninja 250); and Sidecars, Spike Taylor and Astrid Hartnell (Masterton, LCR).
NZ Superbike Championships, final round double-header, Manfeild, provisional results.
Race one: Jaden Hassan (Auckland) Suzuki 1; Hayden Fitzgerald (Taranaki) Suzuki 2; Tony Rees (Whakatane) Honda 3; James Smith (Christchurch) Honda 4; Craig Shirriffs (Feilding) Suzuki 5.
Race two: Sloan Frost (Wellington) Suzuki 1; Fitzgerald 2; Scott Moir (Taupo) Suzuki 2; Rees 3; Hassan 4; Shirriffs 5.
Race three: Linden Magee (Australia) BMW 1; Hassan 2; Fitzgerald 3; Rees 4; Frost 5.
Race four: Shirriffs 1; Hassan 2; Rees 3; Fitzgerald 4; Magee 5.
Race five: Magee 1; Dennis Charlett (Christchurch) Suzuki 2; Fitzgerald 3; Shirriffs 4; Frost 5.
Final championship points: Charlett 211, Magee 153, Frost 152, Hassan 147, Scott Moir (Taupo, Suzuki) 146.
Race one: Alastair Hoogenboezem (Christchurch) Suzuki 1; John Ross (Christchurch) Suzuki 2; Adam Chambers (Clive) Honda 3; Jayden Carrick (Wanganui) 4; Toby Summers (Manukau) Yamaha 5.
Race two: Chambers 1; Ross 2; Hoogenboezem 3; Summers 4; Carrick 5.
Race three: Carrick 1; A Hoogenboezem 2; Ross 3; Chambers 4; Jeremy Holmes (Invercargill) Honda 5.
Race four: Chambers 1; Carrick 2; Summers 3; Ross 4; Daniel Mettam (Auckland) Suzuki 5.
Race five: Chambers 1; Summers 2; Carrick 3; Holmes 4; A Hoogenboezem 5,
Points: Ross 272, Summers 233, A Hoogenboezem 227, Chambers 185, Holmes 155.
Race one: Jason Nairn (New Plymouth) Suzuki SV650, 1; Hayden Fitzgerald (New Plymouth) Suzuki SV650, 2; Gavin Veltmeyer (Auckland) Suzuki SV650 3.
Race two: Zayne Agate (Oamaru) Kawasaki ZXR450, 1; Veltmeyer 2; Nairn 3.
Race three: Fitzgerald 1; Agate 2; Veltmeyer 3.
Race four: Agate 1; Fitzgerald 2; Veltmeyer 3.
Race five: Fitzgerald 1; Agate 2; Nairn 3.
Points: Fitzgerald 281.5, Agate 232.5, Veltmeyer 198.5.
125 GP –
Race one: Troy Guenther (Australia) Honda 1; Matthew Hoogenboezem (Christchurch) Honda 2; Tyler Lincoln (Hawke’s Bay) Honda 3.
Race two: M Hoogenboezem 1; Guenther 2; James Jarman (Whangarei) Honda 3.
Race three: Guenther 1; Lincoln 2; M Hoogenboezem 3.
Race four: Guenther 1; Lincoln 2; M Hoogenboezem 3.
Race five: Lincoln 1; Guenther 2; Jarman 3.
Points: M Hoogenboezem 233.5, Lincoln 229.5, Jarman 208.5.
Pro Twins –
Race one:, 1; Royd Walker-Holt (Kawakawa) Suzuki SV650 1; Robert Whittall (Raglan) Suzuki SV650, 2; Doug Stockwell (Auckland) Suzuki SV650, 3.
Race two: Walker-Holt 1; Whittall 2; Stockwell 3.
Race three: Walker-Holt 1; Whittall 2; Stockwell 3.
Race four: Walker-Holt 1; Stockwell 2; Dean Bentley (Lower Hutt) Suzuki SV650, 3.
Race five: Walker-Holt 1; Whittall 2; Sarah Elliot (Foxton) Suzuki SV650, 3.
Points: Walker-Holt 349, Stockwell 222, Whittall 199.
250 Production –
Race one: Lachlan Epis (Australia) Kawasaki 1; Baillie Perriton (Ashburton) Kawasaki 2; Tim McArthur (Blenheim) Kawasaki 3.
Race two: McArthur 1; Perriton 2; Alex Bowers (Christchurch) Kawasaki 3.
Race three: Epis 1; Perriton 2; McArthur 3.
Race four: Epis 1; Perriton 2; McArthur 3.
Race five: Perriton 1; Epis 2; McArthur 3.
Points: Perriton 319, McArthur 149, Epis 143.
Race one: Barry Smith-Robbie Shorter (Te Puke) Windle Suzuki 1; Spike Taylor-Astrid Hartnell (Masterton) LCR, 2; Peter Goodwin-Darren Prentis (Northland) LCR Windle, 3.
Race two: Smith-Shorter 1; Taylor-Hartnell 2; Goodwin-Prentis 3.
Race three: Smith-Shorter 1; Goodwin-Prentis 2; Michael Wolland-Neville Mickleson, Derbyshire 1000, 3.
Race four: Smith-Shorter 1; Taylor-Hartnell 2; Goodwin-Prentis 3.
Race five: Smith-Shorter 1; Taylor-Hartnell 2; Goodwin-Prentis 3.
Points: Taylor-Hartnell 247, Smith-Shorter 244, Goodwin-Prentis 210.5.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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