The time is ripe for a revolution, thousands of them in fact, of the high horsepower, motorcycle engine variety.
Yes, the revs are building for the start this weekend of the Suzuki Series, the popular annual pre-nationals competition that threatens to rival the official New Zealand Superbike Championships in terms of status and popularity.
The three-round Suzuki Series kicks off at Hampton Downs, just north of Huntly, this weekend and Whanganui-based promoter Allan ‘Flea’ Willacy is grinning from ear to ear as he anticipates another exciting motorcycling spectacle, one that will wind up in his home town on Boxing Day, with the iconic annual Cemetery Circuit race meeting.
A slew of international superstars have been inked into the series programme and Waikato’s undulating Hampton Downs Motorsport Park is ready to receive them for practice and qualifying on Saturday and full-blown racing on Sunday (December 6).
Round two is set for Manfeild, on the outskirts of Feilding, on Sunday, just one week later, on December 13, with the third and final round on the closed-off public streets of Whanganui on Boxing Day (December 26).
British sidecar pairing Tim Reeves (driver) and Mark Wilkes (swinger) will make their first trip to New Zealand especially for this series. Reeves and Wilkes teamed to win the Southern 100 at the Isle of Man.
Even without any previous experience racing on them, the New Zealand tracks should hold no fears for the international stars.
West Australian sidecar champions Des Harvey and Dirk Jeal will also add to the international flavour of this class, although they can expect to be severely tested by the elite Kiwi crews.
It is big news also that defending Suzuki Series formula one class champion Horst Saiger, from the German-speaking principality of Liechtenstein, between Switzerland and Austria, is returning and he will again ride the big 1000cc Kawasaki for the Hamilton-based Red Devil Racing Team.
Saiger’s team-mate, Swiss superbike champion Roman Stamm, from Switzerland, will make the trip to New Zealand this summer, the two men in hot form after finishing third in the world endurance championships.
With Whakatane’s Tony Rees also entered again, it means the international contingent can expect a hot reception. Rees is a former New Zealand superbike champion and a multi-time winner of the Boxing Day spectacular around Whanganui’s famous Cemetery Circuit, the traditional finale to the Suzuki Series.
New Zealand’s former Isle of Man winner Sean ‘Gremlin’ Harris, of New Plymouth, will be a crowd favourite too, along with fellow Kiwi internationals Avalon Biddle and Connor London and extremely talented Whanganui racer Jayden Carrick and Wellington charger Sloan Frost (pictured above).
Biddle has just returned from Europe after winning the Women’s European Cup, the first time this championship had been run.
Isle of Man resident and racer Billy Redmayne, who won the Manx Grand Prix 600cc class and became a lap record holder there this year, will be riding for a Kawasaki in the formula two class.
Redmayne, a British Army paratrooper, is no stranger to the New Zealand race tracks, making dozens of friend when he raced here last season.
Expatriate Kiwi John Woodley, now resident in Australia, will race in the Bears (non-Japanese bikes) class, while Japan’s Yoshi Kishimoto will arrive to race in the formula two class.
In addition, popular Porirua racer Glen Skachill makes a welcome return to the sport, while the rapid rise of Taupo youngster Roman Rajek will be worth plotting during the series, along with that of Hamilton’s Jacob Stroud, the rising star son of nine-time former national superbike champion Andrew Stroud.
Germany’s Thomas Kreutz (now going by the surname of Wendle) is back for another taste of 600cc class action, where he will again come up against former 600cc champion Toby Summers, the Aucklander who will this year also race a 1000cc bike in the superbike class.
The Suzuki Series is the first big hit-out for the racers ahead of the four-round New Zealand Superbike Championships with that competition following soon after the Suzuki Series wraps up – round one of the nationals set for Ruapuna Raceway, on the outskirts of Christchurch, on January 9-10.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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