It was a breakthrough day for Bay of Plenty’s Scott Moir at the third and final round of the 2017 Suzuki Series at Whanganui on Boxing Day Tuesday.
The 33-year-old Taupo man dominated on the famous Cemetery Circuit streets circuit at the traditional post-Christmas race meeting, wrapping up the Suzuki Series’ premier Formula One class title and also celebrating a start-to-finish win in the coveted Robert Holden Memorial feature race as well.
It was something he’d threatened to achieve in the past, but had always come up just a little short … until now.
With a seven-point series lead at the start of the day, the traditional Cemetery Circuit event on Whanganui’s public streets, Suzuki’s Moir knew the main trophy was well within his grasp and a sensible approach to racing on Boxing Day would be enough to get the job done and allow him to wrap up his first major road-racing title.
Moir took his Suzuki GSX-R1000A to qualify fastest in the premier Formula One class and then convincingly won the first of the day’s two F1 races, a start-to-finish win bolstering his points advantage to 10 points over his nearest challenger, Glen Eden’s fellow Suzuki Team rider Daniel Mettam, whose runner-up finish in that race kept alive (but only just) his chances of snatching the crown for 2017.
Mettam is no stranger to winning titles, having collected the Suzuki Series’ 600cc Formula Two trophy in 2015 and the national 600cc supersport title in 2016, but he was up against Moir at the height of his powers.
And when Moir battled his way to a runner-up finish in the day’s second F1 race at Whanganui, passing the chequered flag just 2.6 seconds behind another Suzuki GSX-R1000 rider, Lower Hutt’s Jay Lawrence, the Suzuki Series crown was all his. Mettam finished fourth in that second F1 race and he secured the F1 class No.2 spot for 2017, with Whakatane’s Mitch Rees (Honda CBR1000) claiming the third podium position for the series thanks to his pair of sixth places at Whanganui.
All that remained to make it a perfect weekend for Moir would be for him to win the stand-alone multi-class champion-of-champions Robert Holden Memorial feature race and that is what he proceeded to do, crossing the finish line 1.5 seconds ahead of Lawrence, with 600cc Formula Two class winner Shane Richardson (Kawasaki ZX6R), of Wainuiomata, completing the Robert Holden race podium.
Rees’ father, Tony Rees, was unable to defend his Robert Holden Memorial feature race trophy after crashing out of the Suzuki Series at round two at Manfeild two weeks earlier.
“I’ve never won the overall here at the Cemetery Circuit before, but to do that, win the Suzuki Series and take the Robert Holden trophy as well … it’s just fantastic feeling. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” said Moir afterwards.
“I’ve won one race here in the past and finished runner-up a few times, but never this. I even managed to set my personal best Cemetery Circuit lap time in the Robert Holden race.”
Richardson was also impressive, winning the 600cc F2 class with a race to spare and then powering through traffic to finish third overall in the all-capacities Robert Holden feature race.
Aucklander Nathanael Diprose (Suzuki GSX-R450) was almost untouchable in the Formula Three class, beaten just once in the series six F3 races.
Huia man Diprose qualified fastest at all three rounds and, with five wins from six starts, he had wrapped up the class with a race to spare – Whanganui’s Ashley Payne (Suzuki GSX-R450) winning the final race of the day at Whanganui.
Auckland’s Gavin Veltmeyer (Suzuki GVR645) sealed the overall runner-up position for the series, with Payne settling for third overall in the F3 class.
Home-town hero Richie Dibben (Honda CRF450) was unbeatable in the super moto class, taking his modified motocross bike to six wins from six starts, as well as gaining maximum points for qualifying fastest at all three rounds.
He finished the series 21 points ahead of arch rival Duncan Hart (Yamaha YZ450F), the Tauranga man who’d won the class last season.
Meanwhile, the fledgling GIXXER Cup class continued to impress at Whanganui, the newly-created class easily justifying its inclusion in the 2017 Suzuki Series.
An integral part of the Suzuki Series, the seven-round GIXXER Cup did not wrap up at Whanganui and now continues on, set to be a feature also of the four-round 2018 New Zealand Superbike Championships, beginning at Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Christchurch, on January 7, with rounds to follow at Timaru, Hampton Downs and Taupo.
The GIXXER Cup class is reserved for riders aged between 14 and 21 years and all of them riding identical Suzuki GSX150F bikes.
With the tagline “Growing Future Champions”, the GIXXER Cup is a production racing class that will provide a springboard towards a successful racing future at higher levels.
Any number of the young riders have shown throughout the Suzuki Series that they are capable of winning.
Hamilton’s Jesse Stroud, the 15-year-old son of Suzuki’s nine-time former national superbike champion Andrew Stroud, scored back-to-back wins at the series opener at Taupo and showed himself as a young man to watch for future stardom.
Also impressive at Taupo was Whanganui 19-year-old Tarbon Walker, although a crash in race one proved costly in terms of his points, and other stand-outs there were the 14-year-old Greymouth rider dubbed the “West Coast Warrior”, former motocross and speedway exponent Clark Fountain, with Paeroa’s Blake Ross, Taupiri’s Zak Fuller and Whanganui’s Ollie Dennison also applying voltage to the highly-charge class.
Other names have popped up as the series has progressed, including Timaru’s Harry Parker, Feilding’s Scott Hawkes and Whanganui’s Cameron Goldfinch, Pukekohe’s Thomas Newton and Invercargill’s Michael Wilson.
Only six of the seven GIXXER Cup rounds are to be counted, with riders ditching their worst.
Final leading standings in the 2017 Suzuki Series:
Formula one: 1. Scott Moir (Taupo, Suzuki) 137 points; 2. Daniel Mettam (Glen Eden, Suzuki) 122; 3. Mitchell Rees (Whakatane, Honda) 112.
Formula two: 1. Shane Richardson (Wainuiomata, Kawasaki) 145; 2. Toby Summers (Manukau, Kawasaki) 115; 3. Rogan Chandler (Upper Hutt, Yamaha) 115.
Formula three: 1. Nathanael Diprose (Auckland, Suzuki) 149; 2. Gavin Veltmeyer (Auckland, Suzuki) 114; 3. Ashley Payne (Whanganui, Suzuki) 108.
GIXXER Cup (after two rounds): 1. Blake Ross (Paeroa, Suzuki) 83; 2. Clark Fountain (Greymouth, Suzuki) 76; 3. Tarbon Walker (Whanganui, Suzuki) 70.
GIXXER Cup (round three points at Whanganui): 1. Zak Fuller (Taupiri, Suzuki) 44; 2. Hunter Stoneman-Boyle (Whanganui, Suzuki) 40; 3. Michael Wilson (Invercargill, Suzuki) 32.
Post Classics Pre-89 (senior, over-600cc): 1. Glen Skachill (Lower Hutt, Bimota) 153; 2. Matt Eggleton (Rotorua, Yamaha) 128; 3. S.J. Cavell (Napier, Yamaha) 116.
Post Classics Pre-89 (junior, under-600cc): 1. Dean Bentley (Lower Hutt, Yamaha) 140; 2. Tony Sklenars (Whanganui, Honda) 105; 3. Steven Gregg (Masterton, Honda) 99.
Bears (senior): 1. Dwayne Bishop (Whanganui, Aprilia) 137; 2. Steve Bridge (Ngaruawahia, Ducati) 122; 3. Eddie Kattenberg (Te Awanga, Ducati) 111.
Bears (junior): 1. Zurrin Wiki (Hamilton, Triumph) 153; 2. Glen Eggleton (Rotorua, Ducati) 107; 3. Robert Lammas (Palmerston North, Triumph) 98.
Super Motard: 1. Richard Dibben (Whanganui, Honda) 153; 2. Duncan Hart (Tauranga, Yamaha) 132; 3. Aden Brown (Whanganui, Suzuki) 108.
Sidecars (F1): 1. Barry Smith and Tracey Bryan (Tauranga, LCR) 146; 2. Adam Unsworth and Bryce Rose (Auckland, Windle Honda) 132; 3. Chris and Richard Lawrance (Auckland, LCR Suzuki) 99.
Sidecars (F2): 1. Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes (UK, LCR Honda) 128; 2. Tony Baker and Shelly Smithies (Penrith, UK, Baker Suzuki) 107; 3. Gordie McKeown and Geoff Davies (Tauranga, Honda) 77.
Pre-82 sidecars (Whanganui only): 1. Bryan Stent and Tracey Bryan (Whanganui, BMW) 51; 2. Robert Hood and Mark Thompson (Whanganui, Norton Commando) 42; 3. Bruce Roberts and Jim Bilby (Kimbolton, Triumph) 34.
Robert Holden Memorial Feature Race (Whanganui only): 1. Scott Moir (Taupo, Suzuki); 2. Jay Lawrence (Lower Hutt, Suzuki); 3. Shane Richardson (Wainuiomata, Kawasaki); 4. Daniel Mettam (Glen Eden, Suzuki); 5. David Hall (Te Awamutu, Suzuki).
Full results can be found HERE
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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Full story and more photos in your next issue of KIWI RIDER magazine.
Check back here on www.BikesportNZ.com during this week as we bring you more words and photos from the Cemetery Circuit races.