He may be cool, calm and always unruffled, but Waikato’s Andrew Stroud still brought drama to the initial proceedings at the fourth and final round of the New Zealand Superbike Championship at Hampton Downs today.
The 48-year-old nine-time former national superbike champion was nothing short of sensational at Hampton Downs today and, despite his credentials, that surprised everyone, including himself.
Stroud crashed his Suzuki GSX-R1000 spectacularly, travelling at a speed of 220kmph, during a practice session at the track on Friday, the on-track session merely preliminary build-up action before the two days of racing proper at the undulating circuit.
Thankfully, the father-of-10 escaped virtually unscathed, but his bike was declared a write-off.
He and his mechanic burned the midnight oil to completely re-build the bike from the ground up, “swapping the frame and replacing broken bits”, but there was still no sign of Stroud or his bike when the first practice session was underway at the track on Saturday.
He drove into the pits just as the superbikes were coming off the track at the end of that session.
Stroud also “nearly didn’t make it in time” going out onto the track for official qualifying period and was grateful just to survive that, eventually qualifying a lacklustre eighth.
But the best was yet to come and Stroud raced to a convincing win in the sole superbike championship race held today, that result enough to boost him from third to second in the championship standings with three races still left to run on Sunday.
“I was behind Tony Rees, Scotty Moir and Alastair Hoogenboezem on lap one, but about halfway through the (10-lap) race I was in the lead and I held on for the win.
“It surprised me a bit actually. The bike had been repaired in such a hurry that things still weren’t quite right for me during qualifying. The brakes were binding up and the rear wheel was locking up. But we got it fixed before the points race,” he smiled.
Stroud is a distant 48 points behind Wellington’s series leader and fellow Suzuki star Sloan Frost, but, with 75 points still available over the three races on Sunday, it is still mathematically achievable for Stroud to win the title outright.
That would be considered highly unlikely, but, after today’s heroics, who could dismiss the possibility?
Check back with BikesportNZ.com tomorrow or early next week when we bring you full story, results and photos from the weekend.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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