The 44-year-old Saiger put his 1000cc Kawasaki ZXR-10R in pole position at the opening round of the annual Suzuki Series at Hampton Downs at the weekend, setting the fastest time in qualifying despite suffering a mishap when he slid off the bike during one of Saturday’s early sessions on the undulating track.
The Red Devil Racing Kawasaki rider recovered from that minor setback to then go out and win both his Formula One races on Sunday, setting himself up to successfully defend the crown he won on debut in New Zealand last summer.
The three-round series heads to Manfeild, on the outskirts of Feilding, for the second phase this weekend and then wraps up on the public streets of Whanganui on Boxing Day, at the traditional Cemetery Circuit event.
Saiger’s main opposition at the weekend came from Wellington’s national superbike No.3 Sloan Frost (Fujitsu TSS Red Baron Suzuki GSX-R1000), with nine-time former national superbike champion Andrew Stroud (Suzuki GSX-R1000), of Hamilton, claiming the third step on the podium.
“The racing was really close. I think the other riders are getting faster and faster. I think maybe I was going faster myself last year, but my pace was good on Sunday,” said Saiger.
“I only missed out on getting the lap record by two-tenths of a second.
“Everything went to plan.”
And while Saiger was enjoying his winning run in the F1 class, his Red Devil Racing Kawasaki team-mate from Switzerland, Roman Stamm, was also setting the track alight in the Formula Two 600cc Supers class.
Stamm took his Kawasaki ZX6R to win both F2 races, with Auckland’s Daniel Mettam (Suzuki GSX-R600) and Wellington’s Shane Richardson (Kawasaki ZX6R) filling out the podium.
“It is great that the Red Devil Racing Kawasaki team is on top of both the main classes, but fresh cards get dealt up every time we race, so there is still work to do. Our start to the season couldn’t have been much better though,” said Saiger.
Class winners at Hampton Downs were Liechtenstein’s Horst Saiger (F1, Kawasaki ZXR-10R); Switzerland’s Roman Stamm (F2 600 supers, Kawasaki ZX6R); Taumarunui’s Leigh Tidman (F3 sports bikes, Yamaha RS450); Te Awanga’s Eddie Kattenberg (post classics pre-89, Bimota YB8S); Feilding’s John Oliver (Bears, non-Japanese bikes, BMW S1000RR); Whanganui’s Richard Dibben (super moto, Honda CRF450); UK pair Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes (sidecars, LCR Kawasaki ZXR-10R).
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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