It wasn’t so cut and dried after the first round of the 2018 New Zealand Superbike Championships in Christchurch a fortnight ago, but it probably is now.
After the second of four rounds at Timaru at the weekend, 2016 champion Sloan Frost now enjoys a massive 24-point advantage at the top of the standings in the premier class standings.
It was a tight battle at round one, but a totally dominant performance from Frost in Timaru.
There had been three different winners in the premier Superbikes class at the opening round of the series at Mike Pero Motorsport Park in Christchurch the previous weekend and Frost arrived at Timaru with a slender one-point advantage over his chief rivals, Whakatane’s Mitch Rees (Honda CBR1000SP1) and Glen Eden’s Daniel Mettam (Suzuki GSX-R1000A), but an unbeaten performance at Timaru blew his leading margin out to 24 points over Rees, with Mettam slipping slightly to third overall, 15 points further back.
Frost qualified his Suzuki GSXR1000A fastest at Timaru’s Levels Raceway and he then scored a hat-trick of wins in the racing proper later that afternoon and on Sunday.
Frost’s Suzuki team-mate, Taupo man Scotty Moir, was also impressive at Timaru – the fastest rider on the track in two of the three Superbike class races – although he does not have the points to reflect that.
The winner of the pre-nationals Suzuki Series, which wrapped up with him also winning the Robert Holden Memorial feature race in Whanganui on Boxing Day, Moir had another “weekend from Hell”.
He crashed out of two more races at Timaru, adding to the two no-points results that had earlier savaged his campaign at round one. With four non-finished out of the six Superbike class races thus far, Moir’s hopes for a national title this season are in tatters.
“I’ll still be there for the rest of the season, though, even if just to wave the Suzuki flag,” said a philosophical Moir.
The conclusion of racing at Timaru marked the halfway stage to the 2018 New Zealand Superbike Championships and an end to the South Island section of the calendar and that may favour Frost.
“I’m a lot happier on the North Island tracks,” said Frost. “They are like home turf to me.
“It has been a tough couple of months for me and we struggled a bit in the (pre-nationals) Suzuki Series, but it’s certainly a huge boost to my confidence getting three wins this weekend,” said the 36-year-old.
“The bike is perfect, thanks to input from Shane Kinderis, from Alpine Performance in Australia, and from KSS man Robert Taylor. Together they have given me a great bike. I have a great team behind me, making all of this possible.”
Meanwhile, there is a new leader in the fledgling GIXXER Cup competition after 20-year-old Pukekohe rider Thomas Newton scored two wins and a runner-up finish at Timaru.
This inaugural GIXXER Cup class is reserved exclusively for riders aged between 14 and 21 years and it is a seven-round affair, the first three rounds having been an integral part of the Suzuki Series pre-nationals competition, which wrapped up on Boxing Day, and it continues on as a feature of the four-round superbike nationals.
Racing at Timaru was therefore considered the fourth of seven rounds, although riders will count only six of the seven rounds, each discarding their worst result.
So Newton is the provisional leader only and it won’t be until after the final round, and riders have had their points adjusted, that the trophy winner will be decided.
Paeroa’s Blake Ross is second in the provisional GIXXER Cup standings, with Whanganui’s Tarbon Walker third and, sharing fourth spot overall are Greymouth’s Clark Fountain and Taupiri’s Zak Fuller.
Other class leaders after the weekend’s second round of four in the national series are Christchurch’s James Hoogenboezem (600 Supersport); Tauranga’s Regan Phibbs (Supersport 300); Hamilton’s Jordan Burley (650 Pro Twins); Christchurch’s Nick Cain (250cc Production); Huia’s Nathanael Diprose (Superlites); Rodney’s Blayes Heaven (125GP); and Auckland’s Peter Goodwin and Kendall Dunlop (Sidecars).
There will be an extended break now before the championship resumes, with North Waikato hosting round three at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, near Meremere, on March 3-4, before it all wraps up at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in Taupo on March 17-18.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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